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You already know his name.
rexking41019 August 2016
Last time I watched the Ben-Hur with Charlton Heston the thought did not cross my mind that perhaps the world needed another version of the story directed by the guy who brought us Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and that weird movie where they make bullets bend.

Anyway, the Heston version is one of my favorite movies. I saw it when I was 8 and two times when I was about 20. I love it and quote it all the time.

But this is not a review of that version because (surprise!) it is not that version. This is a review of the 2016 version and I don't feel it is fair to give this movie a bad rating simply because it was an unnecessary remake. In case you are wondering, this is the sixth version of Ben-Hur.

The story follows Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince in Jerusalem at the time of Christ, and his adopted Roman brother Massala. They love each other but they get in the middle of an attempted assassination on a Roman leader and wind up on opposing sides. They both feel they are in the right, get in a very sticky situation, and thus begins an 5 year journey of survival, revenge, forgiveness.

I liked the movie. The chariot race was thrilling. I was worried about it because the trailer showed a scene which an obvious CGI horse running through the stands. To my delight that was the only part that really used a CGI horse (that I could tell, anyway). The rest of the race was intense even though I already knew how it was going to end.

The movie focuses very heavily on the relationship between Massala and Judah as well as Massala and the rest of the Hur family. Massala's intentions and actions were understandable and he wasn't just some evil man who betrayed his family.

The main actors and actresses do a good (not great) job. I felt Morgan Freeman may have phoned it in a little, but he delivered one of my favorite lines of the movie. My favorite actors were the slave drivers on the galley along with the drummer. They have small roles but I loved them.

I didn't care for the Jesus scenes though. He is a hard character to portray, and I just didn't like it when he spoke. I'm probably picky, but I would have preferred to hear him speak in King James English or not at all (like in the Heston version). I just felt something was off with the scenes and they could have been more powerful.

Overall, I felt it was a pretty good movie that succeeds in many aspects chiefly with the themes of revenge/forgiveness and delivers one exciting race. It's not perfect but a good movie overall.
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A failure of a Hollywood blockbuster
asijtsma199430 August 2016
The story of Ben-Hur is back on the big screen this time directed by Timur Bekmambetov starring Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell and Morgan Freeman. The movie is set in Jerusalem and tells the story of a prince who goes by the name of Judah Ben-Hur. Judah's adopted brother Messala Severus is part of the Roman army that occupies the city. Both brothers have a different idea of what is needed to keep the peace in Jerusalem and this eventually causes the brothers to directly oppose one another. Ultimately this causes the enslavement of Judah and his family made possible by the betrayal of Messala himself. What follows is a story about Judah trying to regain his life and his road to revenge.

The movie starts out trying to establish the relationship that Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and Messala Severus (Toby Kebell) have. This is however not done in a very convincing manner due to the very stupid screen writing. It seems as if no thought has gone into the writing of the dialogue as almost every conversation feels fake. The story itself is presented in an incredibly dull fashion with story- arcs that have no real purpose paired with an ending that is completely ridiculous. What also does not help is that the acting is never really anything to write home about. The two main actors at least seem to have tried to bring some depth to their characters, but the same cannot be said about the many supporting actors. This is especially true for Morgan Freeman who seems to bring as much life to the screen as a decapitated sock puppet.

The direction of the film also leaves a lot to be desired. Almost every scene was shot by using hand-held camera and instead of enhancing a certain aspect of the story this achieves the opposite effect. During the many conversations the director puts a heavy emphasis on the characters through excessive use of close-up shots. Once again this achieves the opposite of what it sets out to do as no one is really interested in seeing characters that are as flimsy as possible.

Most of the times the only redeeming factor of these kind of movies is the action itself, but Bekmambetov's incompetent direction also finds a way to ruin this part of the movie. Quite a lot of action sequences only seem to exist to liven up certain parts of the movie, mostly to no avail as the movie still manages to come to a crawling pace halfway through its runtime. The action sequence themselves are filled to the brim with shaky cam and quick cuts. This in turn causes the action to be extremely hard to follow as it is never really clear what is going on. This was of course the intention of the director to be able to hide the poorly choreographed stunt work. In a lot of scenes characters pull of certain moves that they would not have been able to if they did not have control over the power of editing. For these reasons it is very hard to become invested into the action especially since we never really see the actors do certain stunts themselves.

In the end 'Ben-Hur' is a complete and utter trainwreck. Nobody really asked for another retelling of Ben-Hur's story and I am fairly certain that nobody really wanted to create it either as it seems that almost no love and devotion has gone into making this failure of a Hollywood blockbuster.

My Rating: 2/10
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I Can Never Get My Two Hours Back
tputter12 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Where do I begin with such a deplorable movie? Let's start with cinematography. The vast majority of the scenes are filmed in a frustrating haze of darkness; the excessive use of close-ups is nauseating; and, worst of all, the camera is constantly jerking throughout the film, which left me with a splitting headache when I left the theater.

When compared with the classic 1959 version, the 2016 story is as humorously silly as it is shamefully insulting. Here's just a few examples: In the chariot race, our hero falls out of his chariot; manages, somehow, to hold on to the reins; is dragged for an entire lap around the arena; finds the incredible strength to pull himself up back into the chariot; and, most astounding, not a scratch is on him. Oh, by the way, Ben-Hur's chariot breaks up at the end, permitting him to have a climatic finish, literally rolling across the finish line.

Then, there is Ben-Hur's mother and sister, who are miraculously cured of leprosy, but they do not have a clue as to whom they owe this miracle. They are totally unsympathetic characters - as, in fact, all of them are.

The adoption of Ben-Hur by Roman Counsel Quintus Arius, which is crucial for setting the dramatic scene of Ben-Hur's return to Jerusalem from the galleys, is totally missing. Instead, in this latest version, Ben-Hur is reduced to a fugitive slave, running from the Judean authorities like a scared rabbit.

In the 1959 version, the evil Macella dies in the chariot race, but with his last breath informs a bewildered Ben-Hur - in a triumphant tone - that his mother and sister are lepers and that "the race goes on." Ben-Hur, naturally, is crushed by the news. In the 2016 version, in stark contrast, Macella lives (minus a leg); the two tearfully forgive each other; and, at very the end, they ride off on horses into the sunset like some Grade B western.

Please. PLEASE! Watch the critically-acclaimed 1959 version and you will enjoy perhaps the greatest Hollywood film of all time. However, if you choose, like me, to go see this latest version out of curiosity, remember that you have been warned.
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Another Hollywood remake...
DanielRobertRoss19 August 2016
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.
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Seriously ?
epicking2 September 2016
Well, maybe its worth a 4 …. 4,5 if I had lots to drink, got a raise and was married to a Billionaire. Honestly, this is some of the worst that has come out of the worst. The start sequence just makes you want to leave the Theater right away, burn it to the ground and never come back. Its like a cheap TV show with bad lines and people who cant take a "punch". The best way to describe it is "Hercules meets Robin Hood" and had it been a TV show, lots would have been forgiven because most TV shows seldom has the budget or the actors to do make historical drama's stand out. But if you really want to make a "follow up" on an eternal historic movie like the original 1959 Ben-Hur, you better make it count, but this fails on all levels. Its just terrible and Im sure that Charlton Heston is turning in his grave. May Director Timur Bekmambetov be ashamed of himself
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Typical Faith-Based Market Film.
phatdan2 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I have sympathy for younger audiences who will probably never experience being mesmerized by a movie. As a 10-year-old in 1959, 'Ben-Hur' was an experience on the movie screen.

Faith-based movies are made by cash grabbers who know they have a market. At 100 million, it appears most of the money and time was put into CGI effects. Both the galley ship war and the chariot race were very well done. But the rest of the film displays some of the worse casting, screenplay, and directing that I've ever seen. The music score is uninspired.

Word is out that this film does better at centering around Christ. Non-sense. Jesus is presented in the new film almost as a cliché. To reveal Christ, the 1959 offering utilized subtle visual concepts to suggest Jesus' divinity. This in keeping with the novel's and the 1959 rendition's title: 'Ben-Hur; A Tale of the Christ'.

The ending is so profoundly adolescent that it is embarrassing.
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Bad movie
pentiumwayne30 August 2016
I watched the original Ben-Hur and liked it very much, this time I was very excited going to the theater hoping for at least a 7 stars movie. I ended up leaving with disbelief why there is such a lame move in every aspect of it except the clothing and beautiful scenes. In short, they put Morgan Freeman in cameo appearance to lure moviegoer, he just appears very briefly. The story may be good for reading but the acting is very poor. Remember how officers and generals in Roman Legionnaire look? They are mostly glorified and be surrounded by thousands of troops in full battle (beautiful) gears. In this movie we only see a few officers and they are mostly by themselves in every scenes arguing, fighting, escorting prisoners to Rome, no more than 5 Roman soldiers around wherever the officers go, to the point that they are beaten, ridiculed, wounded, or killed easily. The most ridiculous part, to me, is those no-skilled peasant-turned-fighters were able to fight off or killed the fiercest gladiators who side with the Romans. Lastly, the story put lots of people (suddenly) to appear at the perfect time, perfect location, with fighting skill, or luck, to fight the Romans, and won; The whole movie is just like that.

No offense here but I don't know why other viewers put this movie more than 3 stars? To me, if you give movies like "Gladiators", "300" 100 points, this one barely makes 10 points.

Unbelievably lame!
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And the Oscar for the greatest screw up in a motion picture
jpm-387-6131259 September 2016
What a dreadful effort, it took a lot of creativity for this film to be this bad. The frustrating thing they didn't even have to take a chance, the book is over a 150 years old, there was a blockbuster stage show and 2 blockbuster films, all they had to do was minorly tweak the original book, or use one of the smash-hit films as a guide. I venture to say Ben Hur is one of our great stories, it has everything, love, spectacle, honour, adventure, redemption, meaning, a moral, and even a miracle' where could you go wrong. But wrong they went and I was never so angry and disappointed at a film and it was all down to ineptitude and pure genius at incompetence I mean how could anyone spend 100 million on Ben Hur and get it so wrong, the mind boggles. I give it 4 stars as the 2 great iconic scenes of which we all know, the Naval battle and the Chariot race were quite good. But the story around those events, the iconic Ben Hur story was complete and utter motiveless drivel.
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Bland and misjudged. Furthers the bad reputation of remakes.
Troy_Campbell26 August 2016
Remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, revamps – whatever you may call them, they're predominantly regarded as unoriginal and/or unnecessary cash-ins. They're not all a waste of time (think The Departed or Let Me In), but it's vapid movies like this that ensure their bad name stays in tact. Lets start with the positives though. With Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Day Watch, Wanted) behind the camera stylish action sequences are all but guaranteed, and an incredible battle at sea witnessed from below the decks undeniably delivers on this front. He's also lucky his two leading men, Jack Huston as the eponymous persecuted Jew and Toby Kebbell as his vengeful Roman (adopted) brother, are both extremely strong actors who manage to turn even the worst dialogue into semi-watchable melodrama. That's where the praise stops unfortunately, for the rest of the film shouts disaster. The most notable flaw is the casting of Morgan "paycheque" Freeman, who plummets to new depths of awfulness thanks to his phoned-in performance, a lazy and clichéd narration, and a wig that'll enter the hairpiece hall of shame alongside Travolta's hairdo from Battlefield Earth. There are also a plethora of bizarre choices made by the filmmakers, including an embarrassingly out-of-place epilogue featuring Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro) that should've been either fleshed out more throughout the runtime or cut away entirely. As is increasingly common in modern blockbusters there's also a heavy use of CGI – which in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing – except here it is woefully underdone and sticks out like a sore thumb, especially in the numerous wide shots attempting to establish scale and grandeur. Perhaps most disappointing is the underwhelming chariot-race finale that, for all its hand-held camera-work and gritty intentions, is stunted by messy editing, weirdly absent violence and poor choreography that fails to hide the dumb conveniences within the race. Capped off with an atrocious song played over the final moments, Ben-Hur 2.0 is a bland and misjudged rehash of a swords-and-sandals classic.
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Loses the race
Findoz31 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I have watched the 1959 version maybe 10 times and I love it, as does my 19 year old daughter who has seen it at least as many times. Neither of us is a believer in God, but we are fascinated by movie magic and we went together to the opening. I was actually a bit fearful when I went to the theater but still hoped that I wouldn't be too disappointed. But ...

Yes, I know this is a movie in its own right and one should not compare to the classic '59 masterpiece - but how can you avoid it?

Seen as a pure action movie it is quite okay and well crafted. The acting is ... well, okay - except for Morgan Freeman who is unbelievably wooden as an almost God-like figure, a nice Big Daddy who steps in to explain and arrange everything for the best. Jack Huston as Ben-Hur, though, is rather good.

But the movie just lacks the poetry and magic of the 1959 epic (the 1925 version is actually more worth seeing). Yes - the cinematic technique is of course better than in the predecessors, especially in the galley scenes, and it is visually stunning. So why isn't it as gripping and exciting?

Pro primo: The tragedy of the "original" (I refer to the 1959 epic although I know it is NOT the original movie) story is that it begins with the accident that sentences Ben-Hur to the galleys. An accident! In this movie Ben-Hur is actually hiding a rioter which makes the whole premise a bit shaky. In a way you have to understand Messala's decision to through "his" people into jail - or he would probably himself be cast into roman prison. The character of Messala is designed to attract more sympathy than in the "original", and it does and you feel sorry for him, but ... as a consequence the story just fails to build up to the climax - one really doesn't care who wins or loses the damn race.

As technically spectacular as it is, this version manages to distort and bungle the greatest action sequence in movie history: The chariot race. It is drenched in fiery music to build suspense and chopped to pieces in editing so that you hardly understand who is who and what is happening among the clouds of dust. Just like tens of dozens of other action movie sequences with or without crashing cars. Oh, what a pity.

The 1959 chariot race is pure nail-biting suspense for about ten minutes ENTIRELY WITHOUT MUSIC to boost suspense. Just the sound of the hooves, the shouts, the lashing whips and the roars from the crowd. And it is the most thrilling action sequence ever made, without any CGI tricks. What a feat! I always suspected this race sequence couldn't be topped, and it obviously couldn't.

This movie also lacks the beautiful score by Miklós Rósza, a musical masterpiece in itself (in the 1959 version).

One absolutely ridiculous thing is when the end credits start sliding around the race track gathering dust! Why?? We couldn't help ourselves laughing out loud instead of feeling elated and moved by the love message.

If you ever get the chance to see the 1959 Ben-Hur in a really good movie theater: GO! It is still unsurpassed among the great epic blockbusters and truly moving - whether you believe in Jesus or not.

I hope that young people as a consequence of this movie may get curious and discover the Ben-Hur of 1959.
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actually pretty good
adi-bac322 August 2016
I wasn't really going to write a review but when I saw all the hate this movie was getting -I couldn't help myself and thought that this movie deserved some justice... I can understand that fans of the original movie aren't pleased- I guess they feel like seeing a book they really like getting butchered on screen- but in this case I don't think that happened. I came with low expectations and actually quite enjoyed it! The visuals were amazing-I'm an archaeology buff- roman to be specific and I think that for the first time in a long time I really felt immersed and got excited from seeing stuff I usually see in a museum come to life- The hippodrome was amazing!! And so were the costumes and the sets. In short the art director is a genius. And I finally feel that they got the look of Jerusalem almost right- at least the best version of Jerusalem on screen I've ever seen. (Kingdom of heaven's Jerusalem was awful). As for the characters they were likable- and I did find myself caring for them and being moved at the end. (All though I'm not sure I liked Jesus in it.. His portrayal made things slightly cheesy.. But not too bad.

In short... I think it's pretty good and stands on it's own and should be given a chance-especially since some part of me felt the honest need to defend it- and that doesn't happen a lot..And I do actually want to see this movie again :) Sorry that I didn't put further details- but you know- spoilers... Plus I'm sure that all the other reviewers already have..
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Everyone will be making comparisons; see it and compare
racliff19 August 2016
We thoroughly enjoyed this production. Released today, we saw the matinée and were somewhat surprised at being what seemed like the youngest couple attending. You will not be disappointed with this movie. Watching a familiar story, you're waiting for unexpected items or things just plain screwed up. It didn't feel way, and while there are some plot topics that were different from my expectations, I was not bothered by them.

Going to this movie my thoughts were, 1) would a 21st century version make the chariot race be more violent than necessary?, 2) would the faith portion of the story be erased down to a minor thought? 3) would I recognize the story at all? Answers in a simple style are the circus race had me close my eyes a couple of times -- I'm old enough to know how dangerous these races could become, and faith portion was well done and not overplayed presenting the truth of Jesus' life during this period, and the story was well familiar and my wife commented that portions were actually clearer than we had understood from previous versions. So well done! Comparisons: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is an 1880 American best selling novel. It has been a play and movie multiple times. I found the 1925 silent version of the same title a very impressive production. The 1959 movie "Ben-Hur" is the version most people are familiar with but at 3.5hrs you'll want to find a complete copy of this (and it's one my favourite movies). The '59 movie has more story than today's and the action sequences are somewhat more simplified but very impressive. This Charlton Heston version won 11 Oscars and will be the version of most people's thoughts.

With Morgan Freeman being the only performer I was familiar with, Ben-Hur is great having fresh faces, amazing Italian country sides, and a well paced showing. Go and see this, and find one or two of the other movie versions and maybe the book as well -- so you can make your own comparisons. My wife believes this may now be her favourite, and I'm still committed to the 1959 version. I believe there's enough room for both versions to be enjoyed.
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And Jesus wept. . .
oddjrgensen27 November 2016
Oh dear oh dear.

I actually had to go to IMDb to check if it was the big budget version, or some hack Asylum or Scy-Fy production I was watching.

Where did they sped all the money from the $100.000.000 budget? Hookers and blow? Or did they splurge it all on the wardrobes and 1-800 psychic hot-line calls?

The appearance of all time fairy tale hero Jesus of Nazareth has several appearances, and it's as cheesy as you can make it, completed by him doing some carpenter work. I sh*t you not.

I tried to feel anything for the characters, I really did, but they made it so damn hard.

Not worth your time, and certainly not worth your money.
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Modern and spectacular version about the known hero being sent into slavery , set in the Roman empire at the time of Christ .
ma-cortes8 January 2019
Nice rendition about Ben Hur , the Jew noble being sent into slavery by a Roman friend , then he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge ; including intense drama, marvelously staged battle ships and overwhelming chariot races . In A.D. 26-Jerusalem, the wealthy merchant and son of a Jewish family, Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston , John Huston's son) , enjoys a comfortable life along with his adopted brother Messala (Tony Kebbell) . However, Messala flees to Rome and it will lead to an eventual separation .Now a Roman tribune, Messala goes back ; childhood friends and brothers, Judah Ben-Hur and Messala meet once again but things go wrong . Nowadays , as experienced adults , this time Messala is a Roman officer , a tough conqueror against the Jews and Judah as a rich noble , though conquered , Israelite . An unexpected reunion takes place after many years with his childhood best friend , but Ben Hur soon finds, however, that his friend has changed and has become an arrogant conqueror, full of the grandeur of Rome , and it leads to fateful consequences , as Judah refuses to divulge the names of Jews who oppose Roman rule, and Messala decides to make an example of him , banishing Judah to a life of slavery and imprisonment at a galley ship. When in Jerusalem happens a Roman parade , where is wounded the ruthless governor Pontius Pilate (Pilou Asbæk ) Judah to be sent off as a galley slave , his ownership confiscated and his mother (Ayelet Zurer) and sister Tirzah (Sofia Black-D'Elia) imprisoned at an impregnable jail . But the brave Ben Hur goes on his determination to stay alive when his galleon is attacked by a Greek ship , and then , to be shipwrecked , as he becomes a castaway and escapes . Later on , Judah goes backs his homeland . Unable to locate his mummy and sister, and believing them dead , he can think of nothing else than vendetta against Messala . Judah'll finally find peace in this revolutionary and enlightened new doctrine of kindness : Christianity .

Last movie of the acclaimed novel , being lavishly produced , stars Jack Huston and Tony Kebbell as Messala . This breathtaking film concerns about a merciless vengeance , not about forgiveness, only an unforeseen and gracious act of pardon will set free the once noble prince, who is now bent on revenge, as the incendiary teachings of the Nazarene Jesus rapidly gain ground. Although I think that the the famous novel written by Lewis Wallace is mainly about forgiveness . Furthermore , it deals with a extreme rivalry between the Roman Empire and Israel , in Rome the most important values were pride, rivalry, power, strength, the dictatorship of power , while in Israel rules the religion , rebelliousness , and protests against the Roman invader . Main cast is pretty good . Jack Huston is fine in the known role as wealthy Palestinan battling the Roman Empire who finally meets his rival in a justly famous chariot race and while rescuing his suffering family. And decent acting by Tony Kebbell as the nasty Messala who sends Judah to the galleys and throws his mother and sister into prison. Support cast is frankly well , such as : Ayelet Zuret , Sofia Black , Pilou Asbæk , James Cosmo , and mention special for Morgan Freeman who does some narrating in the beginning and end of the film. The chariot race required thousands of extras on sets constructed on lots of acres of lands . The MGM production costs were massive millions of dollars , as a lot of chariots were built , with half being used for practice . The race took various weeks to film ; both , director and producer insisted that the chariot circus be built for actual, and be made with as little computer graphics imagery as possible. They felt it was absolutely necessary, to make the chariot race look and feel realistic . The known chariot scene was shot at what is now the Cinecittà Studios, Cinecittà, Rome, Lazio, and Matera, Basilicata, Gravina di Puglia, Bari, Apulia, Italy and other scenes in Painted Canyons, Mecca Hills, California, USA . Attractive images , majestic set design , glamorous photography in brilliant color by Oliver Wood , and evocative as well as rousing musical score by Marco Beltrani , all of them combine to cast a spellbinding movie , though inferior than other versions . The motion picture was professionally made by Director Timur Bekmambetov , though with no originality , being a real flop at the box office .

Other retellings based on this vintage novel written by Lewis Wallace are the followings : Silent version by Fred Niblo with Ramon Novarro , Francis X Bushman , that still stands as the all-time silent classic ; it packs impressive scenes that still look nice , in spite of age and in 1931 , a shortened version was released .The classic version ¨Ben-Hur¨ won a record 11 Oscars , this recounting of the story is 87 minutes longer than the 2016 version , directed by William Wyler with Charlton Heston , Stephen Boyd , Haya Harareet , Jack Hawkins , Sam Jaffe , Finlay Currie , Martha Scott , Cathy O'Donnell , in which stuntman Cliff Lyons worked a Stuntman/chariot driver in both versions : 1925 and 1959 ; it ranked as the most expensive movie of its time and took years to end ; it is one of the greatest films in the genre "Epic". Ben-Hur still stands as the all-time silent classic . And cartoon version (2003) by Bill Kowalchuck with prologue by Charlton Heston and ¨Ben-Hur¨ TV series by Steven Shrill with Joseph Morgan , Stephen Campbell Moore , Kristen Krouk , Simon Andreu and Lucia Jimenez
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Powerful, compelling, and realistic take on a classic
qormi19 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The classic 1959 Charlton Heston version is the one I and the rest of the baby boomers grew up on and it remains one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time. But I was very impressed by the 2016 remake. Gone is the stilted dialogue and "holy look" (as Victor Mature described it) of the old time biblical epics. The 2016 version has a bold take on the classic and a fresh approach to the story. It surpasses the 1959 version in originality, imagination, and devotion to detail. The Roman legion is shown in all its scope, strength, and ruthless brutality. The character of Jesus has a prominent role, whereas in the classic version, he never spoke nor did we see his face. With anti Christian sentiment on the rise in the entertainment industry, I wonder if the negative reviews written about this film reflect the agenda driven bias of the critics. The sea battle was spectacular and far surpassed the 1959 version. The epic chariot race was a wonderful homage to the Heston version, complete with the awe inspiring stadium built into living rock and with giant statues in the middle of the track. The race itself rivals the classic one in intensity and imagination. Terrific movie, great acting, and intense realism.
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Huston Did a Beautiful Work of This
zandernat-118 August 2016
Huston conveyed emotion, remorse, rage, resignation and relief with depth and the effortlessness of truth: each won by long years of pain or the grace of an instant. A sort of well, dare I say 'goodness' seems to emanate from the man. He is blithely naive, callow, filled with talent and care for his fellow man and beasts. A mantle of grace rests upon can feel it.

I would give his performance 10 stars. In fact, I do.

The film, however...

I do not like the inclusion of contemporary music in historical settings. It grates at the suspension of disbelief required to be lost in the time and place being brought to life. It holds the entire narrative up against a shadow puppet screen and says 'remember, this isn't real.' That's not what I want. Contemporary music plays at the close of the film, I recall.

Also, the costuming.... they didn't get away with the use of polyester fabrics ~ particularly with metallic elements. They could be seen and were glaring anachronisms, particularly in the women's clothing and in the beginning scenes. Again, jarring to one wishing to believe he is indeed looking upon the time roughly corresponding with the beginning of our calendar system.

The costuming recovers, however. Huston's tunics and attire are flawless. But what about Freeman's Tuareg clothing? Was he a Moor? A Tuareg? An Amazight? They might have made it more clear which sort of African he represented.

The film is worth seeing. It is stirring. It touches the depths of suffering and sorrow and leaves an impression if not a few tears.
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Compares poorly with earlier versions
drjgardner9 September 2016
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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So bad...
lionheartt25 August 2016
If you saw the previous version of Ben-Hur (1959) you will be let down 100%, the acting wasn't good, the story wasn't as emotional at all like the version from 1959, it just seemed fake, I was rolling my eyes so bad during the movie about all the bad acting and how they made the emotional scenes seemed plain.

I don't even want to talk about the ending on how bad it was. I'm sorry but it was bad, like very bad. If you haven't seen the version of 1959 then you might enjoy this movie. Save your time and money and thank me later. Go watch the 1959 version do. I never disliked a movie that much.
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There is no comparison between the 2016 and 1959 version
george-cetta26 August 2016
The 1959 version is the best version of BEN HUR There is no comparison between these two films. The William Wyler's presentation can not be matched in its story line and beauty. And the music score by MIKLOS ROZSA is tops an excellent score This generation of film goers does appreciate good film making. Filmed with MGM camera 65 is advanced technology for that time. A quote from the of this 1959 film EVEN WHILE THEY OBEYED THE WILL OF CAESAR, THE PEOPLE CLUNG PROUDLY TO THEIR ANCIENT HERTIAGE, ALWAYS REMEMBERING THE PROMISE OF THEIR PROPHETS THAT ONE DAY THERE WOULD BE BORN Among THEM A REDEEMER TO BRING THEM SALVATION AND PERFECT FREEDOM.
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Unnecessary Remake of a Classic from the 50's
nikosafer17 August 2016
This is another horrible cash crab remake from Hollywood ,because they get out of a ideas but at the very least tried to make it good?No ,of-cores they didn't care at all.

Before i say anything anything ,i haven't seen the original classic but after i watch this garbage i definitely go to see the original.

The Story : It was very slow to get to the point and they are some plot holes and things they didn't explain very well and also for a story about two brothers and revenge they didn't do good job with it.

CGI : It wasn't impressed ,most scene of the movie are fake and the characters walking behind of green scene The Characters : Most of them are Dull ,Annoying ,Useless and Uninteresting especially the main hero and villain also the acting from the actors and actress didn't help so much ,speaking of which.

Acting & Cast : Horrible for the most part ,they are some actors who give they best in this garbage movie but they were very few and very little in the movie ,the rest of cast they didn't even tried and care.

Music : Oh God there are some piece of music that they take from a famous song that it didn't have anything to do with story and they are just horrible to listening

Overall don't watch it ,come up you all knew this movie will be garbage just watch the original classic

1/5 2/10 20/100 F
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More than simple entertainment
jerryzellers22 August 2016
It is apparent that those who have given this movie a poor rating are among those who do not understand the story of Ben Hur. This version, like those of the past was a depiction of a wealthy Jew who had everything; lost everything, and then through his faith regained far more than he ever had; faith, hope, love and mostly forgiveness. And it was beautifully depicted; kudos and many thanks to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. I was particularly impressed that relatively unknown actors were chosen so that we could see the characters without the prejudgement that comes with more recognizable actors. Those who went to see this movie to find out who won a chariot race were as lost as Ben Hur was when at his lowest point. That is not a criticism; that just makes me sad.
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Just as epic a story today as it was during Hollywood's golden age!
RLTerry117 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Paramount Pictures and MGM Studios present the reimagined classic historical drama of Ben-Hur. Appropriately released by two of the most recognized names in the industry hearkening back to the early days of cinema, Ben-Hur plays out almost as well as it did decades ago. Sitting in the auditorium last night, I wondered what it was like to see a larger-than-life nail-biting story on the silver screen when the original was released in 1959, just before the final decline of the former powerhouse of motion picture production, the studio system. The grand experience of this film is only overshadowed by the unusual pacing. Typically epic stories require a minimum of two hours, and typically come close to 3-hour runtimes in order to do the story justice and tell is visually and emotionally in the most impactful way possible; however, this film is just over two hours. This moderately quick pacing hinders one's ability to really appreciate the foreground and background stories. The grandeur of the Roman Empire fails to show as prominently as it should have in this film that bares a striking resemblance to Ridley Scott's Gladiator in many respects. Still, there are many sweeping shots of the Circus (chariot racing arena) that is disappointingly mostly CGI'd. Still, there is something remarkable about this story. Whether you are approaching this film from a historic standpoint (historic in an appreciation for classic Hollywood stories), religious perspective (forgiveness and sacrifice), or simply for the bad ass racing of chariots in a grand arena, you will likely find something to enjoy about this movie.

On the backdrop of the final years of the messiah, Ben-Hur is about a Jewish prince named Judah Beh-Hur (Huston) who is falsely accused and betrayed by his adopted Roman brother Messala Severus (Kebbell). Sentenced to a life of perpetual rowing of Roman galleons in battle, Ben-Hur endears harsh treatment and near-death experiences in order to one day seek his vengeance. Meanwhile, Messala becomes a war hero and favorite of the people and the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. When the destruction of his shop opens the door for escape, Ben-Hur finds himself washed upon the shore to be picked up by a wealthy African (Freeman) who races chariots--or pays for young men to race chariots. Striking a deal between them, the wealthy African and Ben-Hur work together to train for Ben-Hur to defeat Massala in the circus in order to reclaim his name and truly hit the Romans where it hurts--losing at their own game.

One of the most unique aspects to this film is the parallel plot between the background and foreground, the plot and subplot. At the end of the day, the message of Ben-Hur is one of forgiveness. The forgiveness between brothers and the forgiveness of Christ. Although this is not a film based upon the story of the messiah (or passion), the character of Jesus is an important element in the journey from vengeance to forgiveness. On three occasions, Ben-Hur encounters Jesus, not knowing who he is. Each of these chance meetings can be read as symbolic of the different acts (or stages) in the film itself. As the story of the passion of the Christ is one that many recognize (even those who are not Christians), it helps to get an idea of what is going on in the background at the same time at the story at the forefront of the film.

Cinematically, the film was a little disappointing. It feels like a lot of potential and opportunity for incredible cinematography and production design was wasted. Although there are many wide or establishing shots, the majority of the film consists of American medium shots. It would have been exciting to see more of the physical world of Jerusalem and the Roman Empire but instead we spend a lot of time indoors or in close proximity to our cast. Likewise, I would have liked to have seen more in the way of physical production design. The world on screen should have been one that I could have almost felt. Furthermore, I find that the pacing of the film was not adequate enough to actually tell the story in the manner in which it should have. It's mostly like there was a 2.5-3hr movie condensed into a typical 2hr runtime. Sometimes epic films are guilty of way too much exposition, but Ben-Hur definitely could've benefited from additional development and exposition. Everything just happens too quickly and with minimal challenge.

Chariot racing. That is synonymous with Ben-Hur. And you will get plenty of horses, chariots, and crashes. Not unlike NASCAR of today, chariot racing was all about the violence and crashes. Thousands of spectators gathered to watch heroes battle it out on the ground of the circus (or race track) to see who will be the "first to finish...last to die." Many early films were more concerned about the spectacle of cinema more so than the story or message. After all, MGM's famous logo states Ars Gratia Artis (latin for "art for art's sake"), meaning the goal of cinema was to contribute to the wold of the visual and performing arts. Not necessarily to entertain, although that is certainly part of it, but to create beauty, intrigue, and push the boundaries of the mind and eye. One of the most mesmerizing elements of the original Ben-Hur was the chariot racing. Likewise, the most exciting parts of this new incarnation are the sights, sounds, and spectacle of the chariot races.

Although there are certainly areas of the film that disappointed me, as I have mentioned, I highly recommend for anyone who appreciates historic dramas that wax nostalgic the days of the golden age of Hollywood. And who doesn't love a great chariot race???
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Much Better than Reviews
caseynicholson23 August 2016
I just came from the theater having seen "Ben-Hur" tonight, and I found it to be much better than the reviews (the film has a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this review). Read on to find out why this film is not that bad.

First things first, if you're not familiar with "Ben-Hur", this is a movie that is based on a historical fiction novel that incorporates the crucifixion of Jesus into its tale. The main story is a completely fictitious tale that focuses on a pair of brothers, one a Jewish prince, the other an adopted brother who joins the Roman Imperial army. The plot circles around the dramatic sibling rivalry that unfolds between these two family members, and the various episodes that the family goes through as a result of events related to that rivalry. None of that story has any biblical basis whatsoever-- but peppered throughout the story the family has run ins with Jesus, and ultimately he is crucified about the same time as the climax of the film, and (tiny spoiler coming up here.......) the crucifixion ultimately inspires reconciliation amongst the two brothers.

Again, this is all based on a novel. The story is what it is, and is drawn from a work of fiction that was quite popular as a book before it ever became a popular film. That book was first made into a silent film in the 1920's, and then was turned into the classic Charlton Heston movie in 1956, for which the latter won the Oscar for Best Picture.

Having said all that, this 2016 film is the latest attempt at bringing the book to the silver screen, and I myself found it to do its job quite well. One can make what they will of whether or not they like the book or the plot of the movie--there's certainly much that could be said about that. The book's subtitled "A Tale of the Christ", and so it obviously is written for and marketed to a Christian audience, and the overall message is overtly Christian oriented. Obviously one's faith perspective will therefore influence what one makes of this film, and even if one is a Christian there's nevertheless room for criticism of whether one may or may not like the plot of the film.

I personally am reviewing the movie less for whether or not I liked its message or its plot, and more so as to whether it was a well made film. Based purely on that criteria, I'm giving this movie 8/10 stars. I've seen the Charlton Heston version some years ago, and I liked it okay--but not being familiar with the story at the time, I found that movie a bit hard to follow. The 1956 version was great for its time, but compared to modern movies it pales in comparison in the storytelling department. This 2016 remake does much better in that regard, and I found the story easy to keep up with--and it also arguably does a better job of expressing its religious message, since the tiny bits of the film that feature Jesus early on in the script are more overt in this movie than the Charlton Heston film.

I also found the film to be well made overall, with good acting and extremely well done special effects and appropriate costume design.

Now, let's talk about the chariot race. The truth of the matter is that the 1956 version of this film was significant just as much because of the chariot race as anything to do with its religious message. Sure, "Ben-Hur" is an overtly Christian movie--but nothing like the chariot race scene had ever been done in film making at that point. That scene set the standard for modern movie making for a generation to come. So how does the suspense and drama of the 2016 film stand up to the 1956 chariot race? Well, obviously we live in a different day and age today, and as such the effects of the race could easily be reduced to just another dramatic CGI effects scene akin to a great many movies even in the ancient genre--"300" and "Noah" come to mind.

Still, I found the chariot race scene to be very well done, and done in a way that was both period appropriate but also made for modern audiences. Indeed, there's a bit of gore involved here-- albeit "gore" may not be the right word. The scene is far from a Tarantino movie, but there's definitely some intense moments in the course of the race, with several wrecks and both humans and animals left for dead along the way. But, in my view, it told the story it had to tell quite well.

All in all, I'm giving this movie 8/10 stars. Just as was the case with the Heston version of this movie, I think that there are better stories out there and better movies to watch, even in the intentionally Christian genre. Still, this is far from a bad movie. It's well made, has good acting, and the religious element certainly is presented in a way that exhibits a redemptive theology as opposed to the more negative portrayal of Christian theology that films sometimes embrace. Indeed, I would have to say that I found this to be the more enjoyable of the two films--Heston's chariot race notwithstanding. I'd say most people can find something to appreciate here unless you're just overtly against all things Christianity. And even then, you still should see this movie, or the 1956 version, simply due to its place in popular culture over the course of the last 100 years or so.

So, yeah. Very good movie. 8/10 stars.
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This film really plays better as an epic
AlsExGal19 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This remake has a much shorter running time than the 1959 film, a mere 126 minutes compared to the 212 of the earlier version. The scenes that have been kept in are very similar in almost all instances to the ones from the 1959 version. I think even some of the dialogue is the same. One notable difference is the new version begins earlier in the Ben-Hur/Messala story. We see them as young men racing horses together when Messala is still living with Ben-Hur's family. Messala and Ben-Hur's sister Tirzah have clearly fallen for each other, much to the consternation of Ben-Hur's mother Miriam, who disapproves of a union between the two because Messala isn't Jewish and because he has no social standing. So, Messala leaves to fight for the Empire in Germania in hopes of "making his bones" so he can return someday and claim Tirzah from a proper position of wealth and status. All this is depicted in this version, rather than merely alluded to.

The '59 version begins with Ben-Hur and Messala reuniting after Messala has become a legion commander and returned to Jerusalem. That scene doesn't take a place until a good half hour into the new version. Since they added 30 minutes to the story right at the beginning, they have left out a tremendous amount after that part! One time-saving device that was obvious to me, even with my memories of the '59 version being pretty fuzzy, is that they eliminated the Roman general Quintus Arrius, and had Sheik Ilderim, played by Morgan Freeman (virtually the only recognizable face in the cast), perform all the plot functions of both characters. This seemed a bit of a stretch, as I'm pretty sure that it was Ben-Hur's prestigious position from his association with Arrius that got him into the chariot race. In this movie, Ilderim just bribes his way in for himself and Ben-Hur. Also, with Freeman playing the part, Ilderim is no longer an Arab but a North African. The Romans keep calling him "African" as if that was his name to drive this point home.

Jesus actually appears on-camera, full-face in this movie and has dialogue, some of which is taken directly from scripture (though not always in the same moment in time the Bible has Jesus saying those particular words). There seems to be a contingent on IMDb that's quite upset with the original dialogue given to Jesus in the movie, including a line where Jesus says something like "given enough time, humanity's propensity for good will shine through". Some Christians are arguing that no, the Bible says humanity is evil unless it accepts God. I have no interest in getting in a theological debate, just thought I would point it out because it's kind of interesting. I personally approved of this depiction of Jesus, who comes across as more human and relatable, as opposed to off-camera Jesus in '59 who's always accompanied by ham-fisted chorale accompaniment, a soft, holy glow in the lighting and beatific, almost stupefied looks on the faces of everyone who beholds him. This version is much more subtle in its Jesus depiction.

One of the production companies involved with the film is run by Roma Downey of TV's Touched by an Angel and, I think, her husband. There's an interview out there where they make no bones about hoping to suck in the agnostic, especially the young, impressionable agnostic, with an exciting chariot race action scene and then hit them with some Jesus and hopefully make believers out of them. Some of the hardcore Christians on IMDb are accusing Downey of not actually being a true Christian because nowhere in the movie is it said that it was the sacrifice of Christ and Ben-Hur's acceptance of Him that expunged the hate from his heart and redeemed his soul. I think you could interpret it that way, but it's not expressed in any dialogue, unlike the '59 version, which hits you over the head with its Christian message.

That chariot scene is pretty well-shot, a little over the top, with one horse running into the stands and several more spectacular deaths than the Wyler version. Also a truly over-the-top finish. I'm sure it was virtually all CGI, but CGI has gotten so good, I just kind of roll with it now and don't even try to spot it anymore.

Finally, one major character who dies in the '59 version (and I assume in the novel?), lives in this version, and there's Hallmark-card sentiment forgiveness and reunion between characters who never reconcile in the previous version. And characters who probably would have parted company are all riding off into the sunset together at the end with a contemporary song by an artist named Andra Day playing during the fade-out and first part of the closing credits, which I found really jarring.

I think I'd still prefer the silent with Ramon Navarro over both talking versions, and then the 1959 version over this remake after that. Charleton Heston in the 59 version just lends gravity to the proceedings that the actors in this one just can't seem to muster, and the story plays better as an epic with the Christian message of the 59 version being an embedded byproduct of the production code era rather than a rather contrived hammer with which to hit the audience over the head.
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Forced morals, forced endings, forced moments... forced movie.
pokedom5 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Forced is the only word I can describe this movie with. I will admit this without any shame: I have never seen the original Ben-Hur. Yes, a shocking revelation to all who read this, I have not seen it, nor did I even know it existed until right about this movie's launch day. But after seeing this... well I hope the original was better.

Well because this is going to be a bit negative, here's a positive: Morgan Freeman stole the show. All those other guys? Forget about it. Freeman is the best actor. No ands, no ifs, no buts. Freeman.

The story was nice I guess. Sure it goes on for a while (which I'm about to get into) but it was a decent one to tell.

Okay, positives over.

Every. Single. Bit of the movie. Was forced. You can feel the run time just dragging on and on and on and on and (repeat for a 100 times). The forced dialogue, the forced villain, the forced ending, the forced... romance with the horse? Uh... I'd make a bestiality joke but I'm willing to bet that whole romance with horse thing was just how my mind was interpreting it. Still forced.

Can we talk about that ending some more? And how it's stupid and unnecessary? How forced it seems? Yeah the main character wins, hooray and all that fun stuff, and the brothers made up in the end... and the movie ends? OF COURSE NOT! No, this is Ben-Hur, and if there is another thing we do well, it's make the running time longer for no reason! Instead, we re-enact the crusifiction of Jesus! That will add another 10 minutes for no reason! I get that the movie is set in the age of the Roman Empire, that much was obvious. But throwing in Jesus because... well there is no because. That was stupid.

The comedy was non existent. And by that I mean... there were no lines of dialogue that made me laugh. Nor were there any that made anyone in the theater laugh. Boring.

Overall, the movie tries to be a lot of things, but it all felt forced and almost like it could have done without all these things. Watch it if you feel like watching it I guess.
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