Once again, what we have here is an example of a great idea assembled without balls. Like any other unapologetic heathen, when I read the description of Ultrachrist, I was hoping for an excessively offensive, absurdist, avant-garde adventure in acid-humor filmmaking. The kind of DVD that would get passed around college dorm rooms of eternally hip goodfellas like the long-awaited heir to Life of Brian’s throne. But, sadly, it is not to be. Instead, Ultrachrist is a mildly amusing but largely unobjectionable ‘what-if’ film that treads in the (un)holy waters Dogma and Oh God dove into first.
Ultrachrist treads, but it does not swim. It’s not the poor acting and it’s not the shoestring production those are charming elements of many an indie-film. The problem is in the script. Even an adherence to the pothole plot in which Jesus Christ returns to modern-day America, gets dressed up in spandex and takes on a superhero persona as a way of spreading his message would allow for plenty of proper satire and platinum wit. But instead the screenwriters went for near-earnestness, and in doing so, turned this into a film that wouldn’t be out of place in a Sunday School classroom where teachers could use it to launch pious discussion of ‘What would happen if Jesus visited New York City in 2004,’ despite several scenes which they may or may not find objectionable.
While it may be a fine scenario for questioning college students to discuss during their first semester late-night coffee runs, it’s kind of boring for the rest of us. Now, go rent Monty Python’s Life of Brian instead.