Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt's throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict.
A Jewish nobleman, Judah Ben-Hur, and his adopted Roman brother Messala are best friends despite their different origins. Messala enlists in the Roman army and fights in the Roman Empire's wars in Germany. Ben-Hur also develops feelings for the family slave Esther although their different station in life compels him not to pursue her. But when her father Simonides seeks to marry her off to a Roman, Ben-Hur declares his love for her and takes her as his wife. Three years later, Messala returns as a decorated Roman officer. His return coincides with a rising insurrection by the Zealots, Jews who are opposed to the oppressive nature of Roman rule..
Ben Hur has been a seminal film in the different eras in which it appeared. The 1925 silent film was produced by Irving Thalberg, Louie Mayer and Sam Goldwyn and starred Ramon Navarro and Francis X Bushman, two of the biggest stars of the time. It cost $3.9 million and was the most expensive film to that date. It was a big success at the box office and with critics.
The 1959 film was directed by William Wyler who worked on the 1925 film. As with the previous film, it was the most expensive to date ($15 million) and also had big name stars, most notably Charlton Heston. It became the second highest grossing film of all time, behind GWTW, and received high critical praise, winning an unprecedented 11 Oscars.
What about this latest version. It doesn't exactly have big name stars. Jack Huston plays Ben Hur and Toby Kebbell plays Messala. It's directed by Timur Bekmambetov who's best known for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". The box office was pretty poor, not earning back the $100 million production costs.
The film bears only slight resemblance to the book. When you consider how successful the book was, the reason to vary seems questionable.
All things considered this is a far inferior film to either the 1959 or the 1925 version. Some of the scenes are well done (sea battle, chariot race) but not to an outstanding level as the previous versions had done.
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