An extremely odd film, THE JUDAS PROJECT is a modern retelling of the life of Jesus Christ as told in the Bible (mostly from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, for those who want to read along) and envisioned by writer-director James H. Barden.
Christ, aka Jesse (John O'Banion), wanders along the beach ressurecting drowning victims, healing the sick, and preaching anachronistic parables to those who collect along the dunes. Judas, aka Jude (Ramy Zada), doubts the authenticity of this self-proclaimed messiah but joins his throng,
partially out of curiosity and partially in order to report Jesse's activities to a super-secret board of political and religious playmakers (evocative of the conspiratorial "trilateral commission"). True to the script, Jesse gains power and attention, is sold out to the the powers that be by Jude
for 30 pieces of silver, is crucified and rises from the dead.
However well-intentioned, director James H. Barden is at the heart of everything that is wrong with THE JUDAS PROJECT. He seems eager to put the story of Christ's life and death into a modern context, but chooses to populate the film with too-literal biblical language and practices: the
crucifixion, for example, complete with crown of thorns, is terribly out of place in a contemporary story. Contributing to the mess is the soundtrack, written and performed by Barden. (In fact, the film is preceded on the videotape by a short commercial in which Barden himself hawks the compact
disc, "the perfect gift" which can be purchased via an 800 number.) Barden explains that he actually composed the songs first, using them as inspiration for the film; unfortunately, songs like "Jesse, I Need You" and the plagiaristically Andrew Lloyd Webber-esque "Just a Magic Man in a Travelling
Show" are silly and intrusive, inspiring nothing but a desire to watch something else. Sharing some of the blame are lackluster performances by Zada and O'Banion, who may be the least charismatic Christ ever to appear on film. (Violence, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: An extremely odd film, THE JUDAS PROJECT is a modern retelling of the life of Jesus Christ as told in the Bible (mostly from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, for those who want to read along) and envisioned by writer-director James H. Barden. Christ,… (more)