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Death of a good story

Movies | Corny lines, ham acting mar One Night with the King

Issue: "Too close to call," Oct. 28, 2006

Since One Night with the King (rated PG for violence, some sensuality, and thematic elements) feels more like an entire Persian dynasty, it's worth noting the film's good points.

The film retells the Old Testament story of Esther and lushly recreates the ancient Persian capital Susa. The plot largely follows the biblical story, and characters show belief in God's sovereignty as they pray and recite Scripture.

Sadly, all this is not enough. On characterization and script, the film flops. Yes, headliners are Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif. But the first appears as a bellowing prophet Samuel for not more than three minutes; the second's talents (like those of John Rhys-Davis as Mordecai) do not redeem corny lines and ham acting by other cast members.

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The film closely follows the novel Hadassah by Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olson, so there are a few surprises. Haman the Agagite (James Callis) is not only an enemy of the Jews, but an avenger of his forefather, the Amalekite king Agag, whom Saul disobediently spared.

Haman hates the Jews because they believe "all men are created equal." In another War on Terror--like sentiment, he despises the Greeks for their "democracy."

The film's flighty Esther (Tiffany Dupont) giggles, twirls in a snowfall, and lacks gravitas. King Xerxes (Luke Goss) glides around in translucent tunics offering a sculpted chest and stony lines. Script gaps are noticeable: When Esther risks her life to approach Xerxes' throne unsummoned, the film abruptly cuts to her flopped in the king's arms.

One Night with the King is the latest offering from Matt and Laurie Crouch, who produced the end-times conspiracy movie The Omega Code. High production values have glamorized Christian-themed movies, but as with other entertainment, they cannot save a bad script.

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