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1994 | 1991

1 item from 1994

'The Judas Project'

27 September 1994 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Onetime head of CBN network and former jazz drummer James Barden has filmed the story of Jesus Christ in a modern context with all the heart and good intentions one would expect from an earnestly religious person who devoted 14 years of his life to the project.

After playing various regions of the country in the past 1 1/2 years, "The Judas Project" arrives for a sizable run (more than 70 theaters) in Southern California. It's uneven technically but boasts strong performances and Boss Film special effects for those who wander into the theater expecting the usual secular entertainment.

In addition to the low budget that limits the size of crowd scenes and sets most of the story on barren beaches and around campfires, there are some curious interpretations of the story that point to the film's Moral Majority agenda. Most conspicuously absent is the Last Supper, but the central dilemma facing Jude (Ramy Zada) and Jesse (John O'Banion) -- the former wants the latter to be the King The world needs -- comes through loud and clear.

O'Banion brings great passion and beauteous gazes to the role of Jesse, while Zada is similarly intense. What works less well, despite an effective performance by Richard Herd as a global leader, are the circumstances of Jesse's refusing to be manipulated and then subsequently being crucified as a danger to the world. Without any real sense that the multitude is responding to his message of love and faith, the film's simplistic picture of today's world undercuts the story's relevance.

Furthermore, the special effects are unnecessary and unconvincing evidence of the power of God. Barden, who wrote the film's derivative score and thematically on-the-nose songs, apes the finale of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when the film might have tried for something more challenging.


RS Entertainment

The Judas Project Limited Partnership

Writer-director James H. Barden

Producers James Nelson, Ervin Melton

Executive producers James H. Barden, Edward A. Teraskiewicz

Director of photography Bryan England

Production designer Philip Dean Foreman

Editor Noreen Zepp-Linden

Music James H. Barden

Visual effects Richard Edlund



Jesse John O'Banion

Jude Ramy Zada

Cunningham Richard Herd

Ponerous Jeff Corey

Jackson Gerald Gordon

Running time -- 96 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

(c) The Hollywood Reporter


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1994 | 1991

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