A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.
Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.
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..
Hollywood remakes. For every Ocean's 11, there's 10 Willy Wonkas. So here we are saddled with another previously untouchable classic getting a slickly made, soulless studio remake. But is it fair to judge it just because it's a remake? Or does it succeed on its own merits?
I love the William Wyler '59 original classic, and watch it often. The quoteable lines are brilliant. "Your eyes are full of hate, 41. That's good. Hate keeps a man alive". Charlton Heston is great as Ben Hur. And that chariot race is one of the greatest action spectacles ever put on the silver screen.
I just can't envisage myself re- watching this. The effects are impressive, but any tosspot on a computer can conjure up digitally creative wowzers, so that is no selling point. And the action is predictably impressive, but it's so stagnant, slick and with no standout unforgettable moment. Jack Huston brings nothing new to the role of Ben- Hur, and Morgan Freeman clearly has a new flat screen TV to pay for, so he shows up to phone it in.
For the past 16 years we've seen sword & sandal epics go from fun genre revival (Gladiator) to moribund cliché (Hercules, 300 Rise of the Empire). In fact Rodrigo Santoro (Xerxes from 300) shows up as Jesus Christ this time. From Persian tyrant to Jewish prophet, now that's an improvement.
I left the cinema knowing that I'll forget about this in 3 weeks. Remakes can improve on the original (The Fly, The Thing, the '59 Ben-Hur is itself a remake of an early silent B&W version). But you risk falling into trap of being so slavishly loyal to the original that to redo the film becomes pointless (Pyscho).
I can't recommend paying full cinema price. Stay at home and watch the '59 original. On the small screen, Chuck Heston commands a stronger presence than anyone in this large screen bore.
160 of 253 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this