Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He was baptized by His cousin John and then set out to fast in the desert wilderness for forty days and forty nights. As He sought His Father’s will in the desert, Satan tempted Him in every way imaginable to try to derail His ministry before it started. As Jesus grew weaker and weaker and the devil became more and more relentless, the fate of humanity hung in the balance. Choices had to be made to bring the world back from the brink.
Production Quality (2 points)
It’s undeniable that time and money were spent to make Forty Nights a quality production. Camera work and video quality are professional. The audio quality is also on point, including an effective soundtrack. Shooting on location is excellently executed as the sets and locations are realistic. All of this is great, but it is detracted from by the glaring presence of cheap special effects, obvious CGI, and weird sound effects throughout. Sometimes these conventions are used to be ‘dramatic’ or something, but it really gives the film a cheesy feel. Overall, this is a fine production, but it would have been much better without the bizarre effects.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
What started out as an applaudable effort to create a unique Bible plot quickly became a trainwreck, unfortunately. The story rushes through Biblical events and alters some of them for convenience sake so that sensational extra-Biblical content can be focused on. Though the entire plot is based on dialogue, as it should be, it is too isolating and meandering. Often, the dialogue is extremely formal and Shakespearean to the point of not feeling like these are real people talking. Though there are some interesting philosophical conversations and ideas, they are not enough to outweigh the stoic and robotic nature of this plot. Also, this story commits the unforced error of implying that Jesus doesn’t know certain things and that Satan knows more than Him, probably in an attempt to make things more climactic or something. But it is unwise and irresponsible to insinuate such things and undermines the entire message. Finally, though the ending is fine and there is an overall good point somewhere in this film, it’s not enough to overshadow the glaring errors present here.
Acting Quality (.5 point)
However, the acting is perhaps the biggest element that drags this movie down. The only remotely good thing to say here is that the costuming is mostly realistic. Otherwise, this acting is far too theatrical and practiced. Line delivery is measured, stilted, and robotic. Emotions are flat and lifeless. Though the dialogue is a problem to begin with, we can’t even feel like these cast members are real people. This in and of itself makes this film basically unwatchable.
Unfortunately, Forty Nights basically boils down to The Book of Ruth with more money behind it. This was a really good idea that has been sadly wasted due to annoying acting and a thin plotline. Yet there are also other issues to discuss. These days, there seems to be an overdone effort to ‘humanize’ Jesus in film to the point that He is no longer omniscient. While I am not one to nitpick over theology, I believe this is a dangerous position to take. We know that Jesus certainly had physical limitations while on earth, but to believe that Satan ever knew more than He did is very dangerous. While Jesus was absolutely tempted in every way and while this is great to portray in a film, this was unfortunately not the way to do it. We realize that films need conflict and climax to be successful, but there is no human conflict within the person of Jesus Christ. There is never a good excuse to create a new gospel for the sake of drama.
Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points
Full disclosure: We were provided by the creator with a copy of this film in exchange for a fair and honest review