He's not the messiah; he's just a naughty boy
Village Jam Factory - Tuesday 30 August 2016, 6:10pm
Running time: 123m
Country: United States
Classification: M (Mature themes and violence)
Release date: 25/08/16
Rating: 5.5/10 (ME 2/5, DP 3.5/5)
Jewish nobleman Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and his Roman adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell) are the original odd couple. It's a turbulent time in Jerusalem with a trouble-making carpenter (Rodrigo Santoro) stirring up the masses with outlandish suggestions of loving enemies. Taking the blame for an assassination attempt on Pilate (Pilou Asbæk), Judah is sentenced to life as a slave as his mother and sister are taken away to uncertain fate. But Judah's determination and will to survive see him making a triumphant return, but will he be able to reconcile with his brother and return to the peaceful life that was taken from the both?
For its fourth time on screen (including the iconic 1959 epic), Ben-Hur (2016) reimagines the original story (with a tale of forgiveness and redemption which parallels the life of Christ) and manages to delivers its own twist. Although half as long as the 1959 film, all of the elements are there with a bit of generic CGI trickery to bring it all to life. The performances are ok (thank goodness for Morgan Freeman explaining everything to the audience) but it's the scale of the story that drives the film. Unfortunately the most disappointing thing about Ben-Hur (2016) is that it's dull. For some viewers this will be a fresh story, but those familiar with the 1959 film will have all of the surprises well and truly spoilt. Any suspense about the hopelessness of the situation is non-existent, and even big-ticket items like the chariot race have a sense of optimistic inevitability about them.
There's been a cultural snobbery surrounding discussion of this remake, but this film is as much of its time as the 1959 film was. It's not a great film, but a good introduction to the story for new viewers or an interesting interpretation for lovers of the previous versions. (ME)