One Night with the King

It's been nearly five years since Gener8ion Entertainment, the quality company behind such modern classics as The Omega Code, Carman:  The Champion, and Megiddo:  The Omega Code 2, produced a film.  This is a Christian company that specializes in releasing Christian fare which is fine and dandy, but their films are often horrible.  The message is more important than the quality of the film itself.  So while everything in the film may hold up to Biblical standards, the movies have awful scripts, cheesy special effects, and bad acting.  What a difference five years makes.  One Night with the King retells the story of Esther.  The settings are lush, and CGI backgrounds and extras blend surprisingly seamlessly with real actors and locations.  The magnificent Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif even have roles in the film.  However, the movie still lumbers at a laborious pace, encompassing too many things that detract from the primary story.  If this was a ninety-minute film, it would be better, but two hours is simply too long.

Worse, Sharif (Hidalgo, Monsieur Ibrahim) has a minor role, and O'Toole (Lassie, Troy) appears in the film for what seems like a few seconds.  Of course, both are still featured prominently in the advertising.  The lion's share of the acting goes to relative newcomers Tiffany Dupont (The Work and the Glory, Cheaper by the Dozen) and Luke Goss (The Man, Blade II), who play Esther and King Xerxes.  Dupont is insanely attractive, and of course, looks more "white" than all of her co-stars.  She gives an earnest performance, hampered a bit by overwrought dialogue (as is everybody else).  Goss does little more than walk around shirtless, displaying his impressive, well-oiled pecs and abs.  And he wears a lot of eyeliner.

The historical story of Esther, novelized by Mark Andrew Olsen and Tommy Tenney, then adapted by Stephen Blinn (Megiddo, The Omega Code) and directed by Michael O. Sajbel (The Ride) tells of a Jewish woman who becomes Queen of Persia.  She hides her religion, but when the Jews are about to face extinction, reveals herself and saves her people.  The movie One Night with the King adds in far too much context, placing the story of Esther and Xerxes into the wider arena of HISTORY.  Their relationship is lost amidst all sorts of other things happening, thus gutting the love story from a film that badly needs an emotional core.

Esther grew up with her uncle Mordecai (John Rhys-Davies, The Game of Their Lives, The Princess Diaries 2), a scribe for Xerxes who also hides the fact that he is Jewish.  Xerxes is looking for a new queen, and many women, including Esther, then known as Hadassah, are taken to for the King to choose from.  This is where the story should lie.  Instead, Sajbel takes the viewer into the past, showing why some in Persia hated the Jews, and who was out for revenge.  He fills the movie with dull exposition about politics, which just takes time away from Esther and Xerxes, along with some weird reality-show like Queen training camp.  She reads to him one night, and he falls in love with her.  Huh?  Does that make any sense?  There are many better ways to present this than what actually came out on screen.  It doesn't make much sense that after this one meeting both people would be madly in love with each other.  Then, Sajbel follows this with more dull politics.  It's nice that Gener8ion is now able to make a film that looks great.  Now, all they need to do is make one that sounds great too.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 2 minutes, Rated PG for violence, some sensuality, and thematic elements.

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