×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Samson’

A sluggish biblical epic that might have been more bearable if it had a much higher campiness quotient.

Director:
Bruce Macdonald
With:
Taylor James, Billy Zane, Lindsay Wagner, Caitlin Leahy, Rutger Hauer, Jackson Rathbone, Brandon Auret, Frances Sholto-Douglas, Greg Kriek.
Release Date:
Feb 16, 2018

Rated PG-13  1 hour 50 minutes

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6951892/

Despite the limitations of their obviously limited budget, the makers of “Samson” strive mightily to provide the scope and sweep of an Old Hollywood biblical epic while offering their take on the classic tale about a mighty hero who falls from grace after a tonsorial malfunction. Unfortunately, there’s nothing miraculous about this latest product from Pure Flix Entertainment, an outfit that’s recently scored considerably greater success with such modern-day faith-based fare as “Woodlawn,” “God’s Not Dead” and “The Case for Christ.” Even if you’re willing to forgive the laughably fake beards, the unconvincing computer-generated imagery, and a man-versus-lion skirmish that might have embarrassed Ed Wood, the overall clunkiness of this enterprise may tempt you to shout rude things at the screen.

In the title role, British-born beefcake Taylor James certainly looks buff enough to pass muster as a divinely enhanced brawler, most notably when Samson lays waste to scores of Philistine soldiers while armed only with the jawbone of an ass. (Here and elsewhere, James resembles nothing so much as a living and breathing version of a Frank Frazetta illustration.) And he takes full advantage of a few opportunities to crack wise while Samson and his kid brother, Caleb (Greg Kriek), misbehave like a couple of Old Testament bros.

Throughout most of the movie, however, James is glumly serious, if not downright sullen, as Samson grapples with the challenge of being a Chosen One charged with protecting his fellow Israelites against their Philistine oppressors. Truth to tell, Samson would rather be just a regular dude, free to follow his heart and marry Taren (Frances Sholto-Douglas), a Philistine beauty. But his parents (Rutger Hauer, Lindsay Wagner) insist that they, and God, know what’s best for him: He must fulfill his destiny as a holy warrior because, well, with great power comes great responsibility. And heaven knows that, for as long as he doesn’t cut his hair, Samson is pretty doggone powerful. Just ask those Philistine soldiers who were at the wrong end of that jawbone.

Directed by Bruce Macdonald from a screenplay credited to Jason Baumgardner, Galen Gilbert, Timothy Ratajczak and Zach Smith, “Samson” feels like a long movie that’s been cut down from a much longer one, or maybe even a miniseries. The continuity is ragged, the pacing is bumpy — and on more than one occasion, everything seems to be building up to a commercial break.

If the campiness quotient were a bit higher, “Samson” might have compensated for its flaws by qualifying as a guilty pleasure. Alas, Caitlin Leahy comes across as too sincere to be sultry as Delilah, the scissors-wielding vixen who diminishes the hirsute Israelite. Billy Zane, who’s usually good for some robust scenery-chewing, dials it down too many notches as King Balek, the Philistine tyrant who refuses to accept Samson’s God, or any other deity, as a superior authority. Only Jackson Rathbone as Rallah, Balek’s effetely ferocious and fatally ambitious son, attempts the sort of extreme overplaying that can give an otherwise stolid biblical epic some nondenominational appeal.

Film Review: 'Samson'

Reviewed online, Houston, Feb. 15, 2018. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.

Production: A Pure Flix Entertainment release and presentation in association with Boomtown Films of a Pure Flix production. Producers: David A.R. White, Michael Scott, Elizabeth Travis, Alysoun Wolfe, Vlokkie Gordon, Bruce MacDonald, Craig Jones, Brittany Yost.

Crew: Director: Bruce Macdonald. Screenplay: Jason Baumgardner, Galen Gilbert, Timothy Ratajczak, Zach Smith. Camera (color): Trevor Michael Brown, Brian Shanley. Editors: Tim Goodwin, Vance Null, Gabriel Sabloff. Music: Will Musser.

With: Taylor James, Billy Zane, Lindsay Wagner, Caitlin Leahy, Rutger Hauer, Jackson Rathbone, Brandon Auret, Frances Sholto-Douglas, Greg Kriek.

More Film

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

  • Inside amfAR's Cannes Gala

    Inside amfAR's Cannes Gala: Mariah Carey, Kendall Jenner and Tiffany Trump

    Kendall Jenner caused a commotion when she arrived. Tiffany Trump went unrecognized until a member of the press pointed her out as she made her way down the carpet. And Mariah Carey flew in to perform a couple of songs. Welcome to this year’s AmfAR Gala Cannes, the AIDS organization’s annual — and largest — [...]

  • 'Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo' Review: Abdellatif

    Cannes Film Review: 'Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo'

    A simple but somehow atypical shot opens Abdellatif Kechiche’s new film: a serene closeup of a young woman’s face, as seen through the camera lens of Amir, a budding photographer still finding his perspective. Her expression is ambiguously tranquil, her long hair lightly rustled by a humid breeze, all softly lit by a sinking afternoon [...]

  • Crown Vic

    Thomas Jane's Police Thriller 'Crown Vic' Sells to Screen Media (EXCLUSIVE)

    Screen Media has bought North American rights to writer-director Joel Souza’s police crime-thriller “Crown Vic,” starring Thomas Jane and Luke Kleintank. The distributor closed terms during the Cannes Film Festival amid a competitive bidding situation between seven other suitors. Screen Media plans to release the pic this fall. “Crown Vic” premiered in April at the [...]

  • Colleen Bell

    Colleen Bell Replaces Amy Lemisch as California Film Commission Director

    Veteran entertainment executive and ambassador Colleen Bell will replace Amy Lemisch as director of the California Film Commission. Bell, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, has worked as a consultant since 2017. She was the U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 2014 to 2017. She held several positions at Bell-Phillip Television Productions, including [...]

  • Jon Feltheimer

    Lionsgate Posts Loss, Underperforms Wall Street Expectations

    Lionsgate has posted a quarterly loss and its revenues and operating income have come in under Wall Street projections, despite growth from its premium cable channel, Starz. The studio reported a net loss of $24 million, or 11 cents a share, with adjusted operating income of $103 million for its fourth fiscal quarter ended March [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content