Let me first of all state, I am an unapologetic, Bible Believing follower of Jesus, I actually believe in and love the Bible. I have read it from cover to cover, studied it, and value it in all kinds of ways. I need to make this disclaimer though, even before I was a follower of Jesus and had read the Bible, I loved and valued the story of Samson. One might even say that learning about the Biblical and Old Testament account of Samson was one of the things that first inspired me to read the Bible. This character that crosses into the faith systems of Christians, Jews, and Muslims is a character well known and loved among various faith groups.
Like most kids, there was a love from me of Super-Heroes and Samson and Hercules were two characters in my youth that in many ways gave an illustration that the superhero concept has existed for thousands of years. I was sure, and am sure, that there are mythologies about both of those characters that have been contributed to their legends, but they were such great characters that they were deserving of that mythology. While I loved Hercules, he was a tad below Samson in my opinion, at least Samson was a character who would exact revenge on those who had done him wrong. In a recent conversation with Brittany Yost the producer of the movie Samson, she stated that even the folks at Pure-Flix had recognized the value of the story of Samson in an age where the super-hero dominates the movie screen.
Samson is a film made by Pure-Flix, known for their God’s Not Dead movies and one of the most recent films, The Case for Christ among others. As mentioned in that review, I have not been pleased with most of the Pure-Flix films, The Case for Christ was, however, an excellent film in just about every way. I was hoping for the same thing for the story of Samson. Brittany Yost in our conversation spoke about how one of her desires was to use faith-based films to not only provide entertainment for Christians or people of faith going to movies but to also make movies that would be used to reach people who did not know Jesus Christ. Samson, the Nazarene from the Bible that we read about in the book of Judges, along with his mighty strength, his desire for Delilah, and his long hair was one such movie.
In many regards, Samson is a film that continues to make progress for Pure-Flix the sets, (shot in South Africa,) the direction, lighting and so forth are done quite well. The cast features several well-known actors in meaningful roles, not just the brief cameo. Those include Billy Zane, Rutger Hauer, Lindsey Wagoner, and Taylor James in the part of Samson. James does a very good job at depicting Samson as does his nemesis Delilah played nicely by Caitlyn Leahy who has mostly done television work. The sets, location and other aspects are also nicely done.
One of the issues I had with the movie, as I often do in period pieces is the lack of authenticity in the characters, dress, make-up and so forth. A recent film done very nicely is The Hostiles. In that movie, we see authenticity from the raveled outfits to the poor haircuts, dirty faces and teeth and much more. In Samson, there was so much potential, but for me to see actors on screen playing characters from early history without blemishes, perfect make-up, lily-white teeth, and so forth can create a distraction that takes away aspects of better understanding the characters in this world. I love continuity in movies and unfortunately for me, this concept was lacking in Samson.
There were things I loved about Samson. The movie did a good job at showing the humanity and frailties of Samson, his pride, his attraction to Delilah, and at times, self-conceded attitudes and mannerisms. Often times Bible Heroes are presented as people other than human, they are people we can’t relate to, that aspect of Samson presented on screen, however, gives a believability and relational concept to the character. It is through the recognition of his own failings that along with the story in the Bible, we see a Samson we can relate to and who turns back to God and the Holy Spirit for the strength that he once had. He recognizes that the things provided to him by God are really the things that make him the legend that has become, Samson. The portrayal of this Samson is a portrayal that the viewer can relate to, and even consider making the same decisions to get their life back in order, just as Samson did.
One of the drawbacks that could hurt this movie, is that Samson is opening alongside another highly anticipated Marvel Film, The Black Panther. I suspect that many of those attending the theater not being able to get tickets to another showing may end up seeing Samson. Pure-Flix has put out a decent add campaign to notify the public of the film and I expect that not only some non-religious filmgoers will see the movie but I also expect the film to draw a large faith-based audience as the story of Samson crosses over to those who are Jewish, Muslim, and Christian. I don’t think any aspect of the film will be offensive to anyone within those belief systems.
I liked Samson; even though I felt the film was a step down from Pure-Flix’s last film, The Case for Christ. I didn’t love it though. It was lacking at times and seemed as if some of the acting, while largely good, was just a reading of the script by some of the actors in the film. I felt it was at times, overacted. As mentioned earlier, there was a lack of continuity in many ways for me. I would still recommend the movie though, especially for a matinee or for a family who may have issues with some of the concepts of the Marvel and DC Universe and would like to present to their children characters they can look up to and follow, characters like Samson, one of the first superheroes.
On a scale of 1 – 10 for the letters in the name Samson, I give a somewhat okay but not great rating of 6.