Sony // 1999 // 176 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 2nd, 2010
The greatest story of all time.
This decade-old made-for-TV miniseries of The Man Himself is unearthed just in time for...I don't know, I guess it's never a bad idea to give JC a shout-out, right?
Jeremy Sisto stars as Jesus, a young carpenter from Nazareth who's going places. Other people recognize this young man's potential, including some fishermen, a couple of tax collectors, a lovely prostitute, a gaggle of suspicious church leaders and a sharp-dressed Satan.
For 176 minutes you get Jesus's greatest hits, from turning water into wine, walking on water, pushing back the Devil's temptations, rebuking the Pharisees, clearing out the money-changers, delivering the Sermon on the Mount, dodging palms on the back of a donkey and, finally, telling Death itself to stuff it. Thus redeeming all of mankind and re-forging the spiritual connection between humanity and God and...well, you know how this thing rolls out.
I have faint memories of this, so I'm guessing I may have run across it during some innocuous channel surfing at one point. It was in the beginning, when Jesus is having a nightmare and he's seeing wars being perpetrated in his name. This little flash-forward gimmick is used again during the temptation sequence where Men's Wearhouse Satan throws the guilt trip at JC, complete with the typical dumping on the Crusades.
It's an okay twist on a Messiah story that largely plays it safe, both stylistically and theologically (save for the weird contemporary ending). Sisto does a pretty good job as Jesus, charging Him with a nice mixture of humanity and divinity, typically the toughest balance to strike when playing the Son of God. Sisto's Jesus is conflicted, confused, charismatic and, eventually, all business when it's time to get His salvation on. It's a good portrayal.
Backing him up is a solid selection of recognizable faces including Debra Messing (a decent Mary Magdalene), Jacqueline Bisset and for-some-weird-reason-the-nigh-recognizable Gary Oldman as Pontius Pilate.
These folks are lucky enough to be placed in a well-executed production, with all of the main set-pieces (the Last Supper, the Triumphant Entry, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection) put together nicely. The characters may not speak Aramaic, but the action looks genuine and the handful of effects are convincing enough...except for SPOILER WARNING! Judas hanging himself in front of a green screen.
A no-nonsense DVD from Sony: full frame. 2.0 stereo, no extras.
Worth a gander. Or re-gander.
Not Guilty. Hallelujah.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 176 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated