Editors Note: “Price is Right” is a running column from local film enthusiast Mr. Price. He reviews selected Strasburg Film Festival films. If he posts a negative review, then the Shenandoah Film Collaborative will respond within his reviews as to why we selected the certain film. By going about it this way, we can help ensure the reader that these are honest film reviews.
The opening scene of “Batman and Jesus” sets the tone for the film’s comedy, but from this scene alone one may expect a very different film from the one which follows. Blending the lines between documentary, comedic fiction, and philosophy piece, “Batman and Jesus” unites a complex mixture of ideas into a thoughtful and hilarious final product.
The core idea of the film is presented early. Through the parody “church of the Bat” scene and the detailed recounting of the history of batman as a character we are prepared for an amped up version of a comic book documentary. The next scene introduces the idea of a Council of the Bat, a group of people given the task of deciding a universal canon of the character. The obvious parallel to the Council of Nicea is reinforced by the following section, where the history of Jesus and Christianity are presented in the same style as the history of the DC Comics character. The film, while clearly taking a stance regarding the historical accuracy of religion, avoids outright mocking for the most part. The idea that, in 2000 years, there may be legitimate religions centered around modern day fictional characters is an interesting one, and provides a unique framework for looking at the religious history presented by the film. Though its message is at times a bit heavy handed, it is presented well. Subtlety would not suit the tone of the film. And despite its criticism of religion, there are some surprising conclusions reached by the end. Whether talking about Batman or Jesus, the film seems to decide that the raw biographical facts often take a backseat to the impact a character or religious figure have on people.
“Batman and Jesus” embraces satire fully, it holds nothing as sacred and dives headlong into absurdity to make its point. And it does all these things extremely well, leaving us with an uproariously funny and surprisingly profound film.