D: Timur Bekmambetov
Paramount/MGM/Lightworkers (Sean Daniel, Joni Levin & Duncan Henderson)
USA 🇺🇸 2016
W: Keith Clarke & John Ridley [based on the novel by Lew Wallace]
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: Dody Dorn & Richard Francis-Bruce
Mus: Marco Beltrami
Jack Huston (Judah Ben-Hur), Morgan Freeman (Sheik Ilderim), Toby Kebbell (Messala), Nazanin Boniadi (Esther), Rodrigo Santoro (Jesus)
Why remake a classic? Well, aside from the obvious financial gains it has to be noted that Lew Wallace's novel was a successful stage production, as well as finding life as two silent films before the epic 1959 production made its bow and swept the Oscars. It also has to be said that this "re-imagination" draws just as much inspiration from Gladiator, Spartacus and other films cut from the same cloth, but the overall result is still a complete disappointment.
The bare bones of the story remain intact, a Jewish prince becomes an enemy of the Roman Empire and is sold into slavery, crosses paths with Jesus on his journey for revenge and the whole film is geared towards the chariot race finale which was the iconic scene of the 1959 film.
Every aspect of the production pales in comparison to the Charlton Heston version, and though lots of money has been thrown at it, the acting is not much above pantomime standard and the CGI fails to impress. A Twilight love story is also unwelcomely crammed in just to tick the box for a teenage girl demographic.
A truly pointless exercise. If you want to watch Ben-Hur, watch the 1959 version. Embrace the classics rather than feed the greed of big Hollywood studios. They don't care about art anymore, they just want your money.