1 item from 1994
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.
THE JUDAS PROJECT
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
1 item from 1994
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