I have to be careful about my reviews of Jesus movies. When NatGeo did “Killing Jesus” I gave it a generally positive review (with a few marked criticisms) because of its unique focus on the historical, political intrigue surrounding Jesus’ trial. But as time has passed, there were some downright offensive things about it that became more evident, and I understood why some of my readers were angry.

So I’ve had to exercise better restraint and patience before lauding a Jesus movie. I have to say, though, that “The Gospel of Mark,” which has just become available for purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray at Wal-Mart, really is something worth seeing.

The reason, as I see it, is simple: it is the first unabridged, word-for-word reading of the entire Gospel of Mark set to film and adapted with live-action actors and sets. And it executes each scene with surprising production quality and legitimate acting gravitas. There are wonderful visual moments: stunning close-up shots with exquisite detail and beautiful slow-mo cinematography done with great taste. There’s no cheesiness, in other words, and there are scenes that provoked real tears and emotion. This is incredible, considering that it’s not a traditionally scripted film but instead uses an innovative documentary style voice-over approach where a narrator reads the Gospel in its entirety as we watch the actors perform the actions being described in the Gospel.

It is incredibly powerful to hear the Gospels as they are written combined with the visual power of live-action portrayals. It’s a wonderful gift that these filmmakers have given.

Here is what the press release says about it:

Following last year’s The Gospel of John comes the second installment in the renowned Gospel film series, The Gospel of Mark, arriving on DVD at Walmart, Digital HD and On Demand March 14 from Lionsgate. Just in time for Easter, the second book of The New Testament comes to life for the first time with a truly unique, word-for-word adaptation that uses the Gospel narrative as its script. Shot on location in Morocco with consultation from expert theologians and biblical scholars and produced by the Lumo Project, the film was given the Dove Faith Friendly Seal for 12+. The Gospel of Mark DVD is packed with behind-the-scenes bonus features and will be available for the suggested retail price of $14.98.  According to The Gospel of Mark, Jesus is a heroic man of action, an exorcist, healer, and miracle worker — the Son of God who keeps his identity secret. This critically acclaimed, epic production — five years in the making — is based on the latest theological, historical, and archaeological research, and offers an unforgettable, highly authentic telling of the Jesus story — ending with the empty tomb, a promise to meet again in Galilee, and Jesus’s instructions to spread the good news of the resurrection.

Bottom-line: there are many Jesus movies on the market now and it’s easy for them to get lost in the noise, but this new film, “The Gospel of Mark,” is worth every penny.

“The Gospel of Mark” is a part of the ambitious Lumo Project, which has set out to make word-for-word unabridged screen adaptations of the four Gospels. See what other Gospels have been filmed at the Lumo Project site.