I saw this when it was aired on TBN, and I'm glad I did not waste my money on a ticket. This is a 'B' movie trying to be more, but failing miserably. Maybe it was better in the theater, but I sincerely doubt it.
Although this movie had promise, it appears that the filmmakers did not have sufficient grasp of the mechanics of film-making to produce an acceptable result. The dialog is stodgy and excessively verbose, and is not uniform. The acting is weak, and the characters were not well cast, especially the two lead roles of Esther and Xerxes. This is Esther remade as a harlequin romance, except there is no chemistry between Tiffany Dupont, who seems like an adolescent rather than a woman of presence, and Luke Goss, who seems especially unfit for the role of a Persian king. I could not believe in their romance. The score is nice, but mixed too loudly and therefore is distracting. John Noble almost saved the film, but was not given enough screen time. Although pretty, Tiffany Dupont lacks the confidence to win a beauty contest.
The pace of the scenes alternates from a spastic and confused flurry of flashbacks in the beginning to grandiose and overdone and pretentious pomp that was not true to history. There are many unresolved dramatic subplots that do not enhance the storyline. In fact the main casualty of all this excess is the plot, which bears no resemblance to the biblical book of Esther. Frankly, it was hard for me to determine what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish. Of what benefit was the portrayal of Haman as trying to choke Queen Esther, when the bible tells the opposite story? I have not read the Tommy Tinney book, but this movie gave me no desire to explore it further. The idea that Xerxes has to physically stop a sword from hitting Esther is preposterous in light of the biblical account. It could never have happened.
As a bible scholar I do not appreciate the departures from the plot from the bible story. Even worse is the propagandistic implication that the Greeks and the Jews were aligned in their love of democracy, which has nothing to do with the historical events. The dramatic scenes did not work, and the narration was excessive and detracted from the opportunity to tell the story. Cutaways were often poorly done and did not match the geometry of the scene. In fact, the picture has a remarkably flat or two-dimensional appearance for a picture that was shot on location in India. I don't think there was any clear concept of the space that the filmmakers were trying to portray.
Frankly, I'm both disappointed and dismayed by the hype surrounding this movie that did not correspond with the truth about the movie. Are we American Christians so shallow that we desire neither a movie that is true to the bible nor true to history? It might have been excusable if the drama worked, or if the cinematography was believable. But the cameo by Peter O'Toole seems to have been included only to enable the filmmakers to misrepresent the film by using his name in such a way as to imply that he had a lead role, which left a bad taste in my mouth. As a high school or a college film school project this would have been OK, but it did not measure up to the standards of Cecil B. DeMille, despite the promotional statements to that effect. This film was a resounding disappointment.