Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert Movie Poster Image
Masterful performances impress in modernized rock opera.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

This story of Jesus' final days takes artistic license in controversial matters, such as relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, and sympathetic emotional turmoil of Judas. But it presents Passion of Christ story in mostly familiar terms, with modern twist that will appeal to some viewers. Highly entertaining even without angle of faith. Cast very diverse, incorporating people of color in traditionally white roles and women in traditionally male roles.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Devotes much energy to showing humanity rather than divinity of Jesus Christ. He loses his temper, asks for his own life to be saved; he's overwhelmed by human need, he looks defeated at times -- all making his ultimate sacrifice even more impactful. Judas is a complex figure who believes that by betraying Jesus, he's actually working to preserve peace and continue his work. Other characters -- Herod, Caiaphas, and Pilate -- are motivated by selfishness, power, greed.

 

Violence

Jesus' torment, scourging, and crucifixion shown clearly: body bloodied, head pierced by crown of thorns. It's implied that Judas commits suicide by hanging, but that is not shown.

 

Sex

Some eroticism in a scene in which people embrace and lie on top of one another in what's suggested is a den of iniquity. Herod's dancing girls are dressed scantily. Longing looks imply a possible romantic relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus.

 

Language

Repeated use of "damned" in the lyrics of one song.

 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine bottles visible in a few scenes, including the representation of the Last Supper.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert is a live staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's classic 1970s rock opera. It features a racially diverse cast, including John Legend as Jesus and Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, and incorporates female actresses in traditionally male roles, such as among the 12 apostles. Later scenes that show the scourging and crucifixion of Jesus are bloody and emotional, and it's implied (but not shown) that a main character hangs himself. Erotic themes exist in a scene in which people embrace, rub against each other, and lie atop one another, as well as in the scanty costumes of Herod's dancing girls. The story also suggests that Mary Magdalene was in love with Jesus, a highly contentious assertion among some Christians. Because of its mature themes and its focus on human emotion (especially with regard to Jesus), this event is best reserved for teens, but viewers who do tune in will be treated to masterful performances by an accomplished cast.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR LIVE IN CONCERT casts John Legend in the titular role of this classic rock opera that chronicles Jesus' last week of life. At its start, Jesus (Legend) is celebrated by throngs of fans, leading the apostle Judas (Brandon Victor Dixon) to question whether his teacher's new superstar status threatens his works and message of peace. Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene (Sara Bareilles) tries to comfort Jesus and urge him to care for his own needs as well as those of his believers. As Jesus prepares for his last meal with his apostles, Judas plots with the high priest Caiaphas (Norm Lewis) to have Jesus arrested, setting in motion his trial, scourging, and ultimately his crucifixion, with fateful roles played by King Herod (Alice Cooper) and Pontius Pilate (Ben Daniels).

Is it any good?

Remarkable performances by all of the major players and a modern revamping of the visuals make this live airing of a classic musical a total success. Legend is spectacular as Jesus Christ, impassioned and in complete control of the vocal challenges posed by the story's soundtrack. He's matched by similarly memorable work by the exceptionally talented Dixon and Bareilles, who don't seem motivated to outshine the title character but at times do so anyway. Even the smaller of the main performances are noteworthy, especially the commanding presence of Lewis as the imposing figure Caiaphas, who encourages Judas's betrayal, and Cooper's flashy, scene-stealing Herod.

Historically controversial but beloved by fans, Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar takes some liberty with the biblical account of Jesus' relationships with disciples and his last several days, and that may bother some viewers. It's also a choice to match this ancient story with this performance's decidedly modern slant, with Jesus in tennis shoes and the throngs of followers (and later accusers) in torn jeans and T-shirts. But the very aspects that set apart this telling -- Judas' sympathetic torment, Mary Magdalene's deep love for Jesus, and, most of all, Jesus' humanity -- combine to make this an engrossing watch.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how celebrity status is assigned. Do you agree with the story's assertion that Jesus was the first superstar? Is it healthy to admire celebrities like we do?

  • Does Jesus Christ Superstar change your impression of any of the characters in the story of Jesus? What is the purpose of making Judas a sympathetic figure? What, if any, redeeming qualities does he have in this telling?

  • How effectively does this live performance use minimal costumes and staging to set the scene for the story? Did you find it easy to follow the plot with music alone and all-sung dialogue?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love musicals

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate