Film Review – Ben-Hur (2016)

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Title – Ben-Hur (2016)

Director – Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted)

Cast – Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Morgan Freeman, Rodrigo Santoro, Nazanin Boniadi, Pilou Asbæk

Plot – Prince turned Roman captive after being falsely accused of treason, Judah Ben-Hur (Huston) lives off the idea of seeking vengeance against those that wronged him including his adoptive brother Messala Severus (Kebbell) and will stop at nothing to return to his homeland and find justice met.

“When you set aside the hate they force you to carry, that’s when you know love is our true nature”

Review by Eddie on 03/04/2017

Have you ever been in a discussion with a bunch of movie fans about how much you’d all wish there’d be a remake of the beloved 1959 Oscar sweeping Charlton Heston epic Ben-Hur? A film that to this day stands the test of time as a ground-breaking and emotionally strong piece of grandiose filmmaking that today’s CGI led spectacles can’t match.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this conversation has never happened with you and your film buddies but it obviously happened one quite day around a Hollywood executives table where those in charge of the money coffers decided what the world needed was a reimagining of Ben-Hur.

A reimagining that here shalt forever be known as Boring-Hur.

Hiring the very random talents of Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch one minute, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter the next) to bring the epic story of the unfortunate Judah Ben-Hur to life once more, this update on the tale fails to capture the imagination or heart of the story that makes the tale of Hur such a beloved one.

Scope is lost in this 2 hour event where we fail to connect with Jack Huston’s titular hero while Bekmambetov seems too preoccupied with setting up 3-D moments in the film whilst forgoing any important elements like character development, decent dialogue or CGI improvements (some CGI in the film would be out of place in a video game) so Ben-Hur’s chances of even walking the shadow of its forefather are shot before they even really begin.

There’s little nuance to anything that happens here and while the film is perhaps not the total train-wreck that many called it upon its dire release (where the film lost countless of millions for its struggling studio) there’s nothing that saves this generic event from the doldrums.

Jack Huston try’s in his biggest role yet in a feature film but the talented performer wasn’t a great pick for the lead role here and it’s a shame his yet to match his recurring role as Richard Harrow in HBO’s brilliant series Boardwalk Empire, while Bekmambetov does find some moments of genuine excitement in a few of the films set pieces like a battle on the high seas or the films over advertised chariot race (that still is beaten out by the 1959 version), but these moments are few and far between and often sandwiched between a dreadlocked Morgan Freeman and the continued downward spiral of Toby Kebbell’s once bright looking career.

An as to be expected pointless redoing of a story that deserves far better, Ben-Hur is a largely lifeless affair done in a way that sparks very little in the way of movie magic and while there were worse big budgeted films in 2016, Ben-Hur is certainly one of the most forgettable.

2 pure white horses out of 5

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9 responses to “Film Review – Ben-Hur (2016)

  1. Good review! This movie represents how recent Hollywood ideas of remakes isn’t always a good thing. Even if you have updated visuals, high quality production values, and Morgan Freeman, sometimes you can’t beat out the original.

  2. I wish they would stop with these remakes especially of old classics that still stand the test of time. I will probably become unhinged if someone EVER dares to remake Lawrence of Arabia. If they try, they will probably cast Ryan Gosling.

  3. The only good thing about this movie was that it made me *finally* go watch the original (I know, I’m ashamed to call myself a film fan ;)). It really made it obviously how bad the remake was!

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