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Click above to purchase "Jesus Christ Superstar (2000)" at amazon.com

 

Jesus Christ Superstar
(2000)

review by Tony Medina

Rated G

Studio: Universal

Running Time: 112 minutes

Starring Glenn Carter, Jerome Pradon, Renee Castle and Rik Mayall

Music and Lyrics by: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice

Directed by: Gale Edwards

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Making Of, Trailer, Production Notes, Cast And Crew Bios

Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby, Chapter Search

"What's the buzz?..." Well, I will tell you what's a happening... How does "Jesus Christ Superstar" meets "Rent" sound? After viewing this disc, I can honestly say that I felt as though I were watching "Rent" with the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber Score to "Jesus Christ Superstar."

This production which was based on the successful UK Tour and most recent Broadway Revival stars Glenn Carter as a clean shaven Jesus in modern times.

The entire score is presented here in a modern but faithful adaptation. No matter how many times you have heard the score, you will notice some changes here and there and in all honesty, they brighten up the already vivacious score of the show.

The film was shot on a soundstage and while watching the finished product, you feel as though you are sitting front row center in the theatre.

As the film begins, we see a wall with various slogans painted as graffiti from "hate" to "I Love Jesus" to "Jesus is Cool" to "liberte" to "fascism" to "freedom." As the camera pans, we see various militant and revolutionary drawings on the wall as the police are marching through the pillars attacking someone in the shadows. The police are dressed in gear reminiscent of Darth Vader. As the overture picks up, the cast climb down ladders and socialize with one another while picking up a gun, writing graffiti on the wall and symbolically showing fighting movements. The overture finally comes to a conclusion when the cross which is fully illuminated takes center stage. Right during this overture, we can see that this is no historical telling of this story.

As the film opens, Judas dressed in a leather jacket and a red t-shirt is strolling on the empty stage looking distraught. As he begins the rock opera's first number "Heaven on their Minds," Jesus is seen in the background. Throughout this number, Jesus stands and looks at him in distraught while a confused and angered Judas belts out what will be the premise of the entire show in this opening song.

As Jesus, Glenn Carter gives a sympathetic performance showing confusion, bewilderment and pain. Carter's portrayal is extremely different from Ted Neeley's volcanic performance. Where Ted reaches deep within, Glenn plays it sympathetically and you truly feel for Jesus and we see a human side to him.

As Judas, Jerome Pradon has a good sense of anger, confusion and energy that offer a perfect balance between Jesus' sympathy and Judas' Anger.

An interesting point I would like to mention is that in many productions I have seen, you can feel the compassion and anger between Judas and Jesus but in this production, Edwards places a great emphasis between the ill feelings between Mary and Judas. This can be seen in many scenes throughout the film.

The disciples remind me of the cast of "Rent" in their tank tops, jeans and casual wear.

A standout performance is given by Fred Johanson who portrays Pontius Pilate. During Pilate's Dream, we see the fear and uncertainty that he feels and you truly can see that he fears that there will be a backlash that he will be at the helm of.

The set is basically composed of steps and many pillars. On the back of the set are levels which are utilized throughout the performance. This is as modern as modern can get.

In all honesty, this particular production will take some getting used to especially if you have seen Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson on stage or in the 1973 Norman Jewison Film. However, this is pure theatricality and is worth adding to your library.

The Anamorphic Widescreen transfer of "Jesus Christ Superstar" looked nice on a 16X9 screen. The colors were generally lackluster and at times, a bit grainy especially the reds. Throughout the film, there is a lot of pale flesh color and this was on two different monitors. The transfer has no noise that was relevant and is generally clear but could be richer.

 

The DVD utilizes the Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio System and makes good use of the rear speakers. The main vocals were well stationed in the center channel. The mix sounded a bit muddy and confusing in some passages but overall, the Dolby Digital is used very cleverly especially at the end of the film and during many musical numbers. The sound is rich in bass.

Along with an interesting trailer and some info on the cast and crew, we have a documentary on the making of the film. In my opinion, watch the movie first and then view the documentary. By doing so, you can go back and watch the film and gain a different type of appreciation for the work.

With remakes a common scenario these days, it is nice to have some classics bought back to life. This particular production is in that category and relies more on modern times eventhough Judas and Jesus are central characters. This particular Superstar is more dark than previous incarnations but, the same storyline is delivered through the brilliant score. In short, give this DVD a look and you might find yourself getting the buzz...

(3.5/5 - NOT included in final score)

(3/5)

(3.5/5)

(2.5/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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