The Oath (2023) Parent Guide
Cheesy acting and a script heavily based on violence against women make this lazy scriptural adaptation undesirable for family audiences.
Parent Movie Review
Moroni (Darin Scott) is the last of his people, the Nephites, and is writing their final record, which he has sworn to protect with his life. He is consistently hunted by Aaron (Billy Zane)—a Nephite defector who has become king of the Lamanites–and his main warriors Mahigana (Karina Lombard) and Cohor (Eugene Brave Rock). He rescues one of King Aaron’s mistresses, Bathsheba (Nora Dale) and their romance blooms.
Here’s the good stuff: As a Latter-day Saint (a.k.a. Mormon) myself, I am pre-disposed to root for Mormons making it big in the movies. It’s with this rose-colored lens that I can tell you that this movie has parts that are pretty good. The first third of the movie is constant slow-motion training montages of Darin Scott’s Moroni, but the rugged scenery and lighting set the stage well.
My genuine favorite part of the movie was Moroni’s description of his ancestral record to Bathsheba. It was a moment where I took an anthropologist’s lens to see how a script would boil down the history of one of my sacred texts–the Book of Mormon–for a movie audience. This scene was handled with some exceptionally deft writing, and I appreciated that. I must also point out that in no way does this movie accurately represent the Book of Mormon. It’s basically a fantasy riff on the record, taking one character and building an action-adventure tale from pure imagination. Aaron, Bathsheba, Cohor – none of these people exist in the text and even the real Moroni spent most of his time writing theology; not reminiscing about daring escapades.
Now for the nastygrams:
First, a couple of high intensity moments were so badly acted I broke into startled laughter in the theater. Moroni has a moment where he yells “Aaron, I’ll never call you king!” in the same tones of a peeved teen saying “I’m telling Mom!” Also for some reason King Aaron kept slipping into an Irish accent? I don’t know, y’all.
Second, a few good scenes and some slick cinematography can’t gloss over this movie’s overt racism. Bathsheba’s initial halting dialogue is written straight out of a 1950s western, until her literal White Savior Moroni teaches her to speak properly; then read and write. She is portrayed as infantile, then as a thief, then a seductress; then finally a tamed companion. [gagging sounds]
Third, this movie uses gratuitous violence against women as a plot device. This has been going on forever in the movies, and I am so tired of it. I am sick and tired of seeing women characters get raped, beaten and murdered–and then having their fetuses cut out of them–in order to get the Hero to Do The Right Thing. [more gagging sounds]
Seriously, if anyone from a faith-based movie studio reads only one line of this review, let it be this: for the love of Our Fathers’ God, stop sacrificing women in your movies. Stop raping them, stop slitting their throats, stop cutting their unborn out of their bodies. It’s callous, it’s disgusting, and we hate it. Stop it.Directed by Darin Scott. Starring Darin Scott, Nora Dale, Karina Lombard, Eugene Brave Rock, Billy zane. Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release December 8, 2023. Updated December 20, 2023
Watch the trailer for The Oath (2023)
The Oath (2023)
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Oath (2023) rated PG-13? The Oath (2023) is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for violent content
Violence: Three people have their throats slit. People are stabbed and shot with arrows. A woman is hung, and you infer later that her unborn fetus is cut from her body.
Sexual Content: There is a scene of nudity where you see a woman’s back unfocused, and a fade-to-black sex scene.
Profanity: Two characters use a minor swear word.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.
Page last updated December 20, 2023
The Oath (2023) Parents' Guide
What were the names of the two main ancestors on the scroll for the Nephites and Lamanites?
What could the screenwriters have done differently to not center the story in violence against women?
If you wonder what happened in the real Book of Mormon, you can read the full text for free here.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon church) has also produced videos illustrating the stories told in the Book of Mormon. Moroni’s story is told partially in this video.
To watch the entire video series, you can go to the Book of Mormon YouTube channel.
To learn more about Moroni, you can read the article below:
Lds.org: Moroni, son of Mormon
Related home video titles:
This movie draws heavily from Last of the Mohicans and Gladiator for its influence, so you could watch those instead, I guess. But they sacrifice the women in those movies too, so pick your poison.
For a movie that has nothing to do with the Book of Mormon, but is also rooted in a complicated text and set of cultures, watch the new Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie instead. It’s charming, well-written, and they don’t brutalize and kill off the women.
If it’s movie riffs on scripture you’re after, there are plenty of Bible stories to choose from. The old classic, The Ten Commandments, follows Moses as he frees the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt and leads them towards the Promised Land. Plagues and miracles follow.
Loosely based on the Old Testament tale, Noah, sets the well known ark-builder in a somewhat fantastic world.
Geared at a family audience, Prince of Egypt is an animated retelling of the story of Joseph. Sold by his brothers into slavery, Joseph rises to a position of great power in Egypt, and then has the chance to save or damn his siblings.
For New Testament stories, you can begin with the birth of Christ, as told in The Nativity Story. Christ’s ministry is covered in The Gospel of John and Son of God. His impact on one follower is shown in Mary Magdalene.