It's no surprise that I missed this 2006 film about the rise of Esther and her husband Xerxes, mostly due to how badly it was executed on film. Director Michael O. Sajbel who got his career start as a director of photography for films like 'Hot Shots' part 1 and 2, as well as 'Son In Law,' and has now transitioned into full time director, with 'One Night With The King', being his most expensive film. It seems like the money went to set design and costumes rather than a decent screenplay and lead actors. The finished product is a garbled mess that's confusing and uninteresting.
One of the fatal flaws with this film is that it's horribly miscast. This looks like the product of a studio executive wanting to put pretty faces in lead roles rather than talented actors. Not to mention the fact that the script is all over the place. Only if you knew the story of Esther would you be able to follow along clearly. I have a feeling that if any one of 100 different directors were to take the reins of this film, this could have been at ton better.
We follow Xerxes the Persian king (Luke Goss) who chooses to banish his queen Vashti (Jyoti Dogra). After doing so, he picks Hadassah/Esther (Tiffany Dupont) after she charms him by being genuine self, although she is hiding her Jewish upbringing. Xerxes and Esther have a gentle and decent relationship at first, however, Prince Admantha (John Noble) has been scheming for some time to take control of Persia under his own rule with the help of Haman (James Callis).
Here is where Esther enlists the help of her uncle Mordecai (John Rhys-Davies) and Prince Memucan (Omar Sharif) to persuade and stop Xerxes and the others from killing all of her people. Interspersed between this story are the confusing relationship between Esther and Xerxes as they have a 'Romeo and Juliet' type of background and forbidden love. Then you have Haman's revenge plot with Admantha's evil plan to take over the land. It sounds good on paper, however, none of it is executed properly, leaving us trying to follow along.
The only decent performances here are by the veteran actors, notably Davies, Sharif, and Peter O'Toole. Despite O'Toole getting top billing on the Blu-ray case, he is on screen for less than a minute. I despise companies that do this. With the script they are given and the limited amount of time they have on screen, they do a decent enough job to keep us interested in what they are doing and what they have to say. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the cast, but unfortunately it tends to be more pretty faces than acting chops. Their performances play out like a bad daytime soap opera, only longer and more drawn out.
With a terrible script, unclear plot lines, bad acting, and sub par direction, 'One Night With The King' can only go so far. I'm sure a lot of you have heard the story before, but if you haven't, please don't make this your introduction into the story of Esther. and trust me, I know some of you that see the name Xerxes anywhere will think of '300'. This is far from that film, so don't get your hopes up. If this flick was in better hands, it could have been a better movie.
'One Night With The King' comes with a very good 1080p HD transfer in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio (although the box states otherwise).
The image itself looks great, with the detail sharp and the colors coming across very bright with tons of golds and yellows. The blues come across nicely as well. However, a few scenes, specifically a few exterior shots, seem to be softened a bit before going back to being sharp in the next scene. The flesh tones look natural and smooth all around with the black levels running deep. The colors though really do shine during the wedding ceremony and just livens up the screen. There was a tad bit of motion blur, but no evidence of banding. All around a solid enough video presentation, but it could have been better.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix that sounds fairly good. The dialogue is crystal clear and easy to understand throughout the duration of the film. The score is the best part as it flows through nicely throughout every speaker. The sound effects and ambient noises pop up sporadically, but are not used to their best ability and sound a little soft. I only noticed the bass rumbling in a scene or two and it could have been used more. The directionality is okay here, but not used again to its full potential. It seems as if there is just something lacking here that didn't give it the fullest possible sound.
The film itself is pretty wretched. It's dull, poorly acted, and a mess in almost every respect. The video and audio presentations are decent, but fail to live up to what they could have been. The extras are very slim with only a commentary track by the producers, one of whom was also a writer for the film. It's a decent enough listen, but not entertaining. If you're a fan of biblical films, I'd rent this one first. Other than that, you can skip this one.