Samson (2018 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bruce Macdonald|
|Music by||Will Musser|
|Distributed by||Pure Flix Entertainment|
|Box office||$4.9 million|
Samson is a 2018 Biblical drama film directed by Bruce Macdonald and inspired by the story of Samson in the Book of Judges. The film stars Taylor James as Samson, along with Jackson Rathbone, Billy Zane, Caitlin Leahy, Rutger Hauer, and Lindsay Wagner. The film was released in the United States on February 16, 2018. It was negatively reviewed by film critics and was a box office bomb.
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The film begins with the narrator, Caleb, revealing that the Hebrews have been oppressed by the cruel Philistines for not following God’s covenant. Caleb’s older brother Samson is under a Nazirite covenant with God to deliver the Israelites from oppression. Despite this, Samson likes riddles and fighting pits instead of taking this seriously. However, this message of hope reaches the ears of the Philistine king, Balek. He commands his son Rallah to investigate. Rallah bribes a Philistine lord to hold a fight in hopes of drawing Samson out. Samson arrives and bests the strongman, while noticing the lord’s daughter, Taren. Samson tracks her down and persuades her to spend time with him. However, Prince Rallah enslaves the lord and Taren.
Samson and Taren fall in love and desire marriage. Rallah’s concubine Delilah convinces Rallah to allow the marriage to better control Samson. At the wedding feast, Rallah tricks Samson into drinking wine, which is against his Nazirite vows. In response, Samson offers a riddle to Rallah and his guests, wagering 30 Philistine tunics. Unable to solve it, Rallah threatens Taren to find out the answer. Taren gets Samson to reveal it, but Delilah overhears, telling Rallah the answer. When Rallah declares the answer, Samson assumes Taren told him and storms off.
Samson arrives at a Philistine garrison, killing them all in self-defense. In order to take their tunics, he is forced to touch their dead bodies, breaking his second Nazirite vow. Upon returning, he finds that Rallah has married Taren in his place. Enraged, Samson finds foxes and attaches firebrands to them. He uses them to destroy the Philistine grain fields. Rallah then throws Taren and her father into the burning fields, killing them. Defeated, Samson flees to a cave.
The Philistines arrive at Samson’s village and capture his father Manoah, demanding that Samson be surrendered to them. Despite Samson's surrender, Rallah promises to burn the village anyway and has Manoah executed. As he gives the order to kill Samson, Samson prays to God for strength. Samson slays 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey, while Rallah barely survives.
Samson is anointed Judge. However, the Philistines withhold food from the Hebrews. Samson goes to the Philistine capital to offer terms of peace with Balek. When Balek rejects the offer, Rallah decides to use Delilah to discover Samson’s weakness, coveting the power Samson’s God has. Before Samson can leave the city, he is tricked into visiting a brothel, where he meets Delilah. Delilah warns his life is in danger: the city has discovered his presence. Delilah helps Samson escape, and the two agree to meet in Delilah’s home. Later, the two begin to fall in love.
Samson’s absence agitates the Hebrews into trying to rebel. Some Hebrews who disapprove of this plan inform Rallah, who moves to capture Samson. When Caleb discovers this, he hurries to protect Samson. Meanwhile, Samson and Delilah dream of running away and touring the world. Flightily, Delilah asks what could bind him. Samson reveals that by cutting his hair, he would break his last Nazirite vow and lose his strength. As Delilah cuts Samson’s hair, Rallah and his forces arrive. Samson, now powerless, is captured. Caleb arrives to fight them but is also captured. Rallah blinds Samson and imprisons the brothers. Rallah parades this achievement to Balek, who urges Samson to be killed. However, Rallah wants to use him as an object lesson to their enemies. In their shouting match, Rallah kills Balek and seizes the crown. Delilah comes to the dungeon with bail money to free Samson as penance, but he tells her to use it to free Caleb, which she does. Samson declares he is done following his own desires instead of God’s and tells Caleb to prepare the Hebrews to capture the city.
King Rallah decides to make sport of Samson when he learns that he can never gain the power of Samson’s God. Samson is taken to the temple of Dagon and abused by the Philistines. Caleb enters the temple to monitor Samson, while Delilah also attends out of remorse. Samson prays once more for God’s strength and pushes the two main pillars of the temple. As the building and Dagon’s statue collapses, Samson, Rallah and Delilah are killed, but Caleb escapes and rallies the Hebrews. In a narration, Caleb relates how the Hebrews had been reawakened by Samson and were ready to resist the Philistines. The final scene shows a young boy rising up to fight a Philistine giant, becoming God’s chosen King over Israel.
- Taylor James as Samson, a Nazarite with super-human strength
- Jackson Rathbone as Rallah, the prince of the Philistines
- Billy Zane as King Balek, the king of the Philistines and Rallah's father
- Lindsay Wagner as Zealphonis, Samson's mother
- Caitlin Leahy as Delilah, the partner of Rallah who seduces Samson
- Rutger Hauer as Manoah, Samson's father
- Brandon Auret as Ashdod
- Frances Sholto-Douglas as Taren, a Philistine woman who Samson falls in love with
- Greg Kriek as Caleb, Samson's brother
- James Ryan as Tobias, a Hebrew who is killed by Prince Rallah
Prior to its release, Pure Flix Entertainment sold Samson to various distributors around the globe such as California Films in Latin America, Pioneer in Philippines, Scene Poong in South Korea, Sahamongkolfilm in Thailand, Ozen in Turkey and others throughout Indonesia and Malaysia.
It was released in the United States on February 16, 2018, and made $1.9 million from 1,249 theaters in its opening weekend (an average of $1,556 per venue).
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 25% based on 16 reviews, and an average rating of 5.12/10. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 17 out of 100, based on 6 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike."
Inkoo Kang of TheWrap criticized the acting and direction, writing "the film is just plain bad, with an amateur cast (led by Taylor James), cut-rate special effects, who-cares storylines, and confusing details shoehorned in from the Bible." Writing for RogerEbert.com, Peter Sobczynski gave the film 1.5/4 stars, stating, "The problem with Samson is that while it cannot be faulted for its sincerity, it can be faulted for its sluggish pacing, inconsistent performances and lack of cinematic style".
Forbes contributor Luke Y. Thompson, while knocking the cheap-looking special effects and props, noted that Samson was "rarely boring" and that he did applaud Pure Flix "for actually trying to go big and stretch into biblical epics".
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- Kang, Inkoo (February 16, 2018). "'Samson' Movie Review: Old Testament Tale Collapses Like a Philistine Temple Tale". TheWrap. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
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- Thompson, Luke Y. (February 16, 2018). "Review: Pure Flix's 'Samson' Is An Epic Cheesefest". Forbes. Retrieved February 16, 2018.