The story of Esther is a Cinderella story of the ancient world. Ordered by the king to audition to be his new queen, the young Hadassah, a devout Jewess, is reluctant to go. Her uncle Mordecai encourages her to go in the Lord’s strength, but to conceal her Jewish identity for her safety. Forced to undergo a year of beauty treatments before seeing the king, Esther forms a bond with the eunuch in charge of the process, who quickly discovers that she is different from the other girls. But little does Esther know that she is about to be swept up into a bigger plan to save her people—a plan that only Yahweh could orchestrate.
Production Quality (1 point)
In the era of Fox Faith, money was certainly spent on some aspects of production, such as camera work and video quality. The audio quality is also passable, and the soundtrack is slightly intriguing. However, there are many other negative production elements that detract from this, such as weird special effects. While time is obviously spent on the sets, locations, and props, there is an air of great extravagance in every part of this production. Everything is taken to an ornate extreme; over-decoration clutters the sets. This is a unique problem as they spent their money in the wrong ways. As for the editing, it is also overdone in an attempt to be very dramatic. Some scenes are replayed over and over again from different angles, just for dramatic flair. Many scenes drag on too long, trying to drive a theatrical point home. As will be covered next, time is spent in all the wrong ways. While the funds were obviously present to make this a great production, they were grossly misappropriated.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
For starters, narration is used far too much to fill the gaps of this plot that the writers did not feel like filling with substantial content. As previously mentioned, some portions of the storyline are rushed while others have too much time spent on them. The historical account of Esther is altered in some ways for the convenience of the plot, even though the two-hour runtime proves they have no time constraints. Instead, the writers crowd out real content with embellishment and the frivolous pursuit of meaningless subplots. Trivial asides that have nothing to do with the original story are given far too much screen time. Though there is some positive to find here in the complexity of the storyline, it is far too complex to the point that it cannot be easily understood. Petty and unimportant events are portrayed as extremely dramatic as the writers squeeze forced drama out of everything. The dialogue is empty and confusing, thus creating bland and mindless characters. This is such a disappointment because the resources were here to make a truly great movie, but they were greatly squandered.
Acting Quality (.5 point)
We are all for casting unknowns, but with the money this team had to spend, couldn’t they have found a more professional cast? The acting is very empty and it seems like no coaching is present. Some lines are over-pronounced and over-enunciated, while others are mumbled. Emotions are not believable but instead are over-dramatized. But the money was spent on other things, of course, such as over-the-top makeup jobs. Most of the main characters have a different extravagant costume for every scene. The one positive to note here is that at least the cast is mixed-race rather than all British, but that’s about it.
Branded as a Biblical epic, One Night With the King had the tools available to it to be truly great. Had the money been spent properly, we could be placing this film on the Hall of Fame. Had the complex plot been honed better and the historical elements been properly handled and portrayed, we would be applauding this effort rather than denouncing it. The lesson that can be learned from this experience is that it’s not the money you have, it’s how you spend it. Just throwing money at a production doesn’t cut it. It takes true talent to spend money wisely and know when to stop. Yet frugality was not a word in this creative team’s vocabulary. Next time, stop trying to impress us with shining objects and focus on substance.
Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points