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One of the selling points of this movie was "Made entirely apart from
Hollywood," and, boy, does it show. So much so, I only sat there for the
first third of the movie.
As an actor and soon-to-be filmmaker, I was interested in the whole "apart from Hollywood" angle. As a Christian, the idea of a modern Gospel intrigued me. Both parts of me were offended by this well-intended turkey.
The filmmaker in me was offended by the tedium of the story - this is the Greatest Story Ever Told, and they couldn't make it interesting. The acting could only be likened to bad community theater put on film.
The Christian in me was offended by the treatment of various parts of the telling. First of all, Jesse (Jesus) was a sensitive, weepy-eyed Gap ad, not the strong, passionate carpenter of the gospels. The point at which I walked out was this: At the transfiguration, Jesse reveals his true self, glorified, to the apostles. Two of the apostles do a jaw-drop-then-faint-like-a-board take, like a WB cartoon, with similar sound effects. Wow. This proud-to-be-Christian director reduced one of the high points of Jesus' life to a slapstick routine. Revolting.
The Christian filmmaker in me was offended because all I could think was, "OK, great. Now everyone who sees this is going to think that THIS is what Christian filmmakers do - make crappy movies."
There is one scene in The Judas Project that lays the groundwork for what
expect from the rest of this movie. The scene I am referring to is early
in the movie, where "Jesse" is preaching to a multitude (that's 15) at a
beach. In this scene we are left to wonder such imponderables as "why does
the boat searching for the drowning boy shoot up a flare when the boat is
only 5 feet from the shore?", "why does Jesse have to feed these people
bread and cheese when they could all just go to friggin' McDonalds?", "why
is Jesse speaking in riddles?", and "Dear God - is that Fidel
How you react to this scene will determine how much you enjoy the rest of this movie. If you found this scene funny for how incompetently it was done, well just sick back - you haven't seen anything yet!
For me, this film is a comic masterpiece. Of course, the movie makers never intended for this to be humorous. But, as with so many other inventions, the director just stumbled into this. And, frankly, this mistake is the one thing that redeems his work - trust me, as a serious look at the life of Christ in a modern setting this film fails miserably and shamelessly. But as a comedy - it should have topped the recently released AFI list.
There are too many funny - truly, very funny - scenes in this film to list all of them here. But, I could not write a comment on this movie without mentioning the extremely cheesy lightning scenes with the disciples poorly acting as though they are trying to avoid the bolts, the discrepancy of holding machine guns while crucifying someone in our present time, the "money-66" license plate on Judas' car (what, did they run out of space for the extra 6?),the way Jesse constantly sweats throughout the entire movie, how Peter is beaten by a cop for no reason at all and no one stops to help him (he's cripple for God's sake!!!), the unexplainable close up of the infamous sweaty armpit, and Judas' horrific transformation into a gorilla! And, as another reviewer so aptly pointed out, this film also has Roberto Benigni and Steven Spielberg look a likes! Hey, this film has it all! Honestly - it's like a Christian Ed Wood production!
I've seen this movie over 3 times on video and twice in the theater - I laugh harder and longer each time. Do yourself a favor - mock this film today!
I have to say that I am shocked at the last review for this film. I
thought that it was an amazing piece and was very moving. The whole
message and point behind this film was to help us understand the
motives and events that shaped Judas' betrayal of Christ. Many people,
even those that don't know much about the religion or the teachings of
Christ, know who Judas was and that he was ultimately the one who
betrayed Christ. But little is known of why or how one could do such a
thing. This movie makes the tale more heartbreaking and thought
provoking than anything else I have ever seen. It humanizes some of the
characters in a way that many people may not have viewed them before.
I strongly suggest that anyone who is already a believer, is just coming into their faith, or even those that have decided that it isn't for them see this movie. It is truly eye-opening and gives one a better understanding and view of characters we think we already know.
This movie is not really about the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, but rather his first coming if it happened in modern times as opposed to 2,000 years ago. Everything is updated, but the story-line is the same. The movie was low budget and has only one actor that you might recognize (Jeff Corey), but the unknown actors do a very credible job for the most part, especially the men who portray Jesse (Jesus) and Judas.. That being said, it is an interesting and thought provoking movie, especially for Christians. I went with my 15 year old son, thinking the movie was sci-fi (that's what the ad in the newspaper seemed to indicate). It took only a few moments though to realize what I was watching. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. I'm sorry the reviewer who gave it a 1 out of 10 didn't actually tell us what it was he disliked or what was wrong with the movie. His review was absolutely useless.
Initially his movie was promoted: What if Jesus came today, for the first time? In that context, the movie makes a very good statement except for one (misquoted?) excerpt when Jesse says: the quality of life determines the value (of life). It is not the quality of life that determines it's value, but the value that God the Creator placed on life since God values all life according to His word, the very reason Jesus came into this world. The quality of life is placed into the hands of mankind. For those who don't believe or never read or studied the New Testament, this movie has little to offer since it is the spirit in man we are dealing with.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I realize that it is against the policy of this site to comment on
another individual's review, and so respectfully I will refrain from
The Judas Project was written and produced with the sole intent of examining the possibility of how our present world may have reacted to the arrival of Jesus Christ, the begotten Son of God, in the late 20th century instead of nearly 2000 years earlier. The significance of this film's interpretation is that the Gospel message of salvation is as relevant today as it has been since the initial earthly ministry of Christ. I personally saw no humor in the basic premise of the film, nor in any portion of the screenplay. I personally found the depiction of Judas very relevant to the common misconceptions of the need for power, and as opposed to compassion being an effective catalyst for invoking lasting and permanent changes in the heart of one truly seeking answers in a chaotic and confusing world.
The Judas Project is amongst one of my favorite Christian films, and I have shared it joyfully with many members of my family and church congregation.
I just thought it was stupid. It plays a "what it" game with the message of the Bible, and I think its technical merit fell way below that of God's in the writing of the orignal story... It seems somehow to cheapen or distort the true message of the gospel. Don't waste your time here. If you see it- don't judge the Bible by this cheap imitation.
Simply put, this is one of the worst films ever made, especially
its original lofty notions. The film claims to give a 'modern day'
interpretation of Jesus Christ ("Jesse" in the movie). It claims to have
everything in the Gospels translated in modern language and
Rarely ever has there been such a lofty aim with such a loud thud. In other words, this movie is just no good. I base this decisive view on a number of points.
First is the issue of interpretation of Christ. In the New Testament, Christ is projected to be not a reformer but a radical social (not political for you Commies!) revolutionary. He overruled the norms and bigotries of his time. He reached out to the hated tax collectors who symbolized Roman oppression over the Jews (including the Clarence Thomas of his day, Jewish tax collectors). He spke to women on equal terms, reached out to hated ethnic minorities, loved the lowest of the low such as prostitutes and made radical declarations which overruled beloved Mosaic law. He claimed to be the Messiah. Yet, he was no affluent king who ruled with violence. Rather, he was a prince who came from the rags of the poor and lived among the rabble of the unwanted.
Yet, what do we find with this "Jesse"? We find nothing. Gone is Christ's radical compassion. Instead, we find someone who fits the reform-minded interpretation of Christ as seen by many today. That is, he is seen as a man who got along to get along who once in a while makes outstanding but far from revolutionary comments. Never does this Christ find time to make radical pronouncements about the social structure as Christ did. This Christ does not move forward or even stand still. Rather, he goes backward toward the 'dead center' theory of Christ, complete with the handing out of bread and cheese (more on that later). This Christ is not a radical but a dud reformer. If Christ were like that some 2,000 years ago, history would not have been made. Instead, jesus would have been seen as some guy who wanted to change things but was too busy messing around with his disciples in the river.
Race is a vital subpoint to this. Of course, attacking bigotry was central to Christ's message. By reaching out to hated ethnic minorities and women, plus placing the outcast in his own form on earth ("whatever you do to the least of these..."), Christ attacked bigotry and inequality. Yet, this new Jesse has nothing to say about bigotry or racism. I found it disturbing and all too telling about the film maker's far right view that Christ's 12 disciples were all white males. Hmmm....does not the fact that the director made a cameo as a risen confederate solder making the ascension to heaven give us a gesture toward the world view if not the politics of the film makers? All in all, the film has nothing to say about today's racial and ethnic hatred. With the church being so ignorant and harmful in this racial issue, the film does not act as a helper, but instead ignores the issue and allows Christians who watch it to not have their conscience awoken. Shame on them for missing that opportunity.
Next is the spector of anti-semitism. OK - this film is not racist or anti-semetic itself, but it sure flirts with traditional Lutheresque "Christ killer" remarks. The main leader is obviously a Jew. It is he who takes the charismatic lead in attacking Jesus rhetorically. It is he who takes the lead in putting Christ up on the cross and puts the crown of thorns upon his head. It is he who will suffer God's personal wrath. Given past Jewish suffering at the hands of "Christians," it is improper and morally offensive to have a blatantly Jewish person play the religious leader who goes on the offensive against Christ. I hope that the film makers did not do that on purpose - though I see no reason to believe that they did not, given the blatant "Christ killer" references.
This film is so God-awful that I had to take out the other major flaws of the film in this review. I have not mentioned the literal interpretation of Christ's actions in today's terms. For example, instead of passing out Whoppers or Big Macs (or even Hot Pockets!)to the hungry crowd, Christ feeds them with bread and cheese! Also, Christ in the 1990's is hung on a cross - not executed Texas-style. In short, this film has major cinematic and theological problems. It takes the radical Christ of 2,000 years ago and turns him into a would-be Mr. Rogers.
If you can get past the horrid 80's hairstyles & clothing your next obstacle will be the horrid acting. If you've gotten past that and still find yourself watching you may make it to the midpoint of the film. The premise itself fails miserably for this medium. If it were allegorical it might have had half a chance. It's not as though it hasn't been done before in book form with moderate success (I believe bill myers wrote a pretty decent allegorical book of a modern day Jesus figure that was halfway readable titled 'Eli') but they should not have attempted to film the concept. If you can get past the improbability, bad acting & dated look then you might enjoy this film. Otherwise don't waste your time or money. There isn't much good Christian film out there but this one is so awful it doesn't even deserve the title 'film'!
Not sure why I'm commenting on this movie after almost 20 years, maybe
I'm finally done gagging over it.
OK, the idea isn't bad--trying to imagine how things would be if Jesus were to have come today instead of 2000 years ago. But the production, acting, editing, etc, etc--a whole other story!
Please accept my apologies on behalf of all Bible-believing Christians. The gospel message is indeed "the greatest story ever told" and this movie does not change that. I'll be the first to admit that Christian movies in general have a long way to go when it comes to acting, editing, etc, etc, but this movie is a downright embarrassment. Please don't let this movie turn you off from the Christian faith.
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