Cast: Taylor James, Jackson Rathbone, Billy Zane, Caitlin Leahy
Director: Bruce Macdonald
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: SAMSON is based on the powerful, biblical epic of a champion chosen by God to deliver Israel. His supernatural strength and impulsive decisions quickly pit him against the oppressive Philistine empire. After being betrayed by a wicked prince and a beautiful temptress, Samson is captured and blinded by his enemies. Samson calls upon his God once more for supernatural strength and turns imprisonment and blindness into final victory.
The Biblical version of the story of Samson is one that is full of passion, betrayal, and violence, which could be the foundation of a great epic like Ben-Hur or The Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, Samson was produced by Pure Flix Entertainment, which means all of the elements are thrown out the window or reduced down to the bare minimum. As a result, Samson was neutered by its boring characters, mind numbing pacing, and self-imposed censorship.
Before I get into how bad this movie was, I want to speak about Pure Flix Entertainment and what they do to their movies. Pure Flix Entertainment is a special interest film company that makes Christian and family-friendly films. While this idea might work for animated films and films targeted to children, any time you try to make a movie that has any sort of serious tone and you refuse to write a script with language that a normal person would use and refuse to show anything that could be perceived as not family-friendly, you lose any sort of semblance of credibility. You cannot make a war movie without showing gore and violence and you cannot make a romance without passion or nudity. There needs to be a certain level of realism that exists in these movies that is lost if you refuse to make them real. Specifically looking at Biblical stories, the Bible is full of violence, sex, and sin, so if you do not include any of those things in a movie, you do not properly use the source material. In Samson, the battle scenes are some of the most pitiful I have ever seen. They intentionally show as little blood as possible and make sure any time someone gets impaled by a sword they are facing away from the camera. There are battles with hundreds of people involved and the deaths are very quick and uneventful. I am not asking for this movie to be like an episode of Game of Thrones, but there needs to be some sort of urgency or feeling of suspense that exists in these scenes.
While the action scenes were bad, they were nothing compared to the acting and the pacing. This movie feels like two movies combined into the time span of one, but you feel every minute of this movie just dragging on. I checked the time after I felt as though a serviceable point of time had passed and realized I was not even at the halfway point. Needless to saw the film tries to do too much and is an absolute marathon to get through. For the acting, none of the actors have an ounce of charisma in them. The villain Rallah (Rathbone) does not coming as this devious and evil opponent, but more of a whiney spoiled brat. He acts like a 13 year that was way too into Green Day but has the power of a military, which is very off-putting. For Samson (James), he tries to come off as some lady-killer, but he is so shy and sheepish around women, so it comes off as unnatural. He is the type of guy that is all talk around women, but when he actually around them, he freezes up. Now, if those two roles fail, at least a serviceable Delilah (Leahy) could have made this a below-average experience. Sadly, instead of a seductive and calculated Delilah, we get one that barely shows any emotion at all. I think the most intimate interaction between Samson and Delilah is a short kiss, which shows no level of chemistry between the two. I do not have any positive or negative feelings towards her character, I have something much worse; indifference. Make me care about your characters and you can make a somewhat decent movie. Outside of those elements, the special effects and makeup were also as bottom-tier as you can get. Whenever the main city appears on-screen, it is obvious that it was green screened in and it stands out in such an unflattering way. I also question the amount of makeup the women wore. I am not an expert on ancient beauty products, but I will go out on a limb and say Estee Lauder did not exist back then, so the characters should not look like runway models. These are just a handful of the issues that this film had and there were many more on top of this.
Overall, Samson refused to accept its source material and tries to make an epic movie without the epic elements. At least with something like Fifty Shades Freed, it sucks, but it does not take itself too seriously, but Samson wants to be a Spartacus clone. Pure Flix needs to make a choice, either make a good movie that takes a few risks, or stick to topics that are less dramatic.
Overall Score: 1/10