When it comes to remaking a classic like Ben-Hur for a 2016 audience, the first response is usually “Why? ” repeated over and over again. The easy answer is money. Hollywood believes they can tap into nostalgia and give the audience something they want while lining their pockets with cash. The only problem is today’s generation wasn’t clamoring for a remake to Ben-Hur and the original fans who made this film sacred material grows smaller everyday due to father time. The result is a film no one wants to see, which is a good thing because there’s not much worth watching in the new Ben-Hur remake.
This new take on the 1959 classic is very similar when it comes to characters and plot points. Wealthy citizen of Jerusalem Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) grows up with adoptive roman orphan brother Messala (Toby Kebble) until he’s accused of treason against the Empire and is forced to a life as a slave rowing to his death on a Roman ship at sea. They same themes of revenge and redemption are still present, except these two new bros can’t pull off the unmatched dynamic of Stephen Boyd and Charlton Heston. Plus, that very special Carpenter is used as a weak creative crutch in attempt to give the film some spiritual depth during the mindless computer generated action sequences.
This new Ben-Hur sticks to the original epic formula with their story telling, but the creators totally forget to compensate for time. The original Ben-Hur (1959) had a running time of 3 hours and 44 minutes and this remake tries to shove everything from the first movie into a film that is only two hours long. The result of forcing the material is a movie full of lifeless computer generated action and zero connections with any of the boring Romans, zealots or people of Jerusalem. We get zero time to get to know our characters, because director Timur Bekmambetov is too busy recreating all the action set pieces from the original.
Also the idea of this remake being in 3-D sounds like something out of a Mel Brooks spoof movie. BEN-HUR IN 3-D! Besides the silliness of giving Judah the three-dimensional treatment, the shaky camera style used in Ben-Hur doesn’t mesh well with the 3-D conversion. The outcome is a blurry mess, which is still the least of the film’s problems. Time constraints prevents any character development and the action scenes, which replace the all important emotional exposition, are quite generic and doesn’t match the spectacular real life stunts of the original. 2016’s Ben-Hur is the poster child for the “Don’t mess with the classics” crowd when it comes to movie remakes.
Overall, I give Ben-Hur 1.5 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell