Release Date: August 24th, 2007 (AMC Empire 25, Regal Union Square 14 and UA 64th 2nd) by Black Diamond Pictures.
The Cast: Jon Voight, Trent Ford, Tamara Hope, Jon Gries, Taylor Handley, Lolita Davidovich, Dean Cain, Terence Stamp.
Directed by Christopher Cain.
BASIC PREMISE: In Utah during 1857, native Mormons, led by Jacob Samuelson (Voight), clash with traveling settlers while Jacobís son, Jonathan (Ford), falls in love with Emily (Hope), one of the settlers. Based on a true story.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Although it occasionally feels intriguing and tense, September Dawn suffers from an unfocused, contrived script and a convoluted plot. Jon Voight gives a stand-out performance as the pernicious Jacob Samuelson, a bishop who leads the Mormons to befriend the innocent settlers before slaughtering them in a bloody battle. These settlers, on their way to California via wagons, have no idea that the Mormons want to kill. Jacob claims that killing them would be revenge for when they slaughtered a few Mormons in the past. To increase the tension, thereís a subplot involving forbidden love between Jacobís son, Jonathan and a beautiful settled named Emily. Trent Ford has good enough looks to play Jonathan, but gives a mediocre performance lacking any charm. His scenes with Emily feel rather contrived and corny at times. Co-writer/director Christopher Cain doesnít include any real surprises here and jumps around between subplots and flashbacks too often without bringing any of the characters to life. The inevitable battle scene, which could have been powerful and riveting, feels somewhat underwhelming and even awkward just like most of this contrived, forgettable film.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Slightly contrived, convoluted and unfocused.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 6
IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly intriguing with a stand-out performance by Jon Voight, but slightly convoluted, unfocused and contrived.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD
The "S" Menu