Jesus Is King

Jesus Is King ★★★

A 31-minute IMAX film that Kanye West is releasing alongside his new gospel-inflected album of the same name, “Jesus Is King” is as contradictory as you might expect from something made to support a devotional record by the self-proclaimed “greatest human artist of all time.” Equal parts reverent and narcissistic, humble and grandiose, this Nick Knight-directed curio is both a tribute to the Lord and a testament to West’s unparalleled ability to get in his own damn way.

At least the rapper seems to recognize that he’s the least interesting thing about it. For most of the movie’s brief running time — the majority of which is devoted to awe-inspiring footage of West’s Sunday Service choir singing gospel standards inside a piece of Arizona land art that looks like a portal to heaven itself — West is either not on screen or just another face in the crowd. His booming, familiar voice hammers down a hallelujah chorus in the opening scene, and then disappears until the end. The only full, new track from “Jesus Is King” is squeezed into the final movements, when it’s played over the end credits that comprise the last three minutes of this 16-story blip.

This might be a glorified ad for an album that’s been delayed more times than the rapture, but it genuinely seems more interested in taking you to church than it does sending you to Tidal (even if that means punctuating each scene with a Bible verse that prevents the movie from having any sense of flow). If the movie still feels like it’s trying to sell you on something, perhaps that’s because this needlessly abbreviated experience never amounts to anything more than an extended trailer for itself; an unsatisfying preview of a longer and less interrupted version of this project that might justify the cost of seeing it in a theater. By the time “Jesus Is King” arrives at its final shot — an extreme close-up of West cradling one of his kids, each of the rapper’s chest hairs stretching six feet across the giant screen — this God-sized experiment feels like one of the smallest things that West has ever done.