Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Rated: PG-13 (For sequences of violence and disturbing images)
So…ok, thematically speaking, the new reboot is all over the map. Its morals are shifted a little and that ended up being a big distraction for me. What about the chariot race though? Because, in all fairness, this is the MAIN reason you’d want to remake the movie! The original twelve minute scene is a masterpiece in film making to this day, but it was made using the tools the original film makers had at the time. This meant using real horses, stuntmen that got hurt during the making of the film, and even going so far as to build an entire coliseum to make the scene. This reboot has computers and green screens though, so there is a lot more fast editing, computer generated stunts, and (what I noticed most of all) close ups. The reason there were more wide shots in the original is that the film makers put so much work into the backgrounds, that it would be a waste not to show them. Since everything here is a computer image the directors chose to focus on the characters faces instead.
This has the potential to be effective in its own way, but because the character development is a bit more shallow in this version, the history of the characters cannot be seen on their faces. For that matter, for how much more screen time Jesus gets in this version, he seems to have a lot less of an impact on Judah’s life. The original had Jesus largely in the distance, coming up occasionally to give mercy to a struggling man who desperately needs it. Here, he walks side-by-side with our main character, talking to him with words of wisdom. You’d hope it would work, but somehow…I don’t know, it seemed to have a much bigger impact when Judah goes to Him as a last minute resort, to find the higher happiness in his life that he didn’t even know he needed at that point.
There is no such revelation here. This is a movie that is more about action and luck. The happiness that the main characters find happens long before the crucifixion. It is made as well as it could be made, but nowhere near good enough to justify existing in the first place. The 3D and computer animation doesn’t add much. I looked up the director of the film and found that one of his previous films was “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” so, from that perspective, maybe “Ben-Hur” turned out much better than it had any right to? I don’t know, I’m sort of at a loss on this one. It isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either. The best thing I can probably say about the film is that this isn’t the worst reboot I’ve seen all year…but, by God, it certainly is the most pointless one I’ve seen all year.
Parents, there is VERY strong violence, some lanuage, a sexual assault, and some brief male nudity. Recommended for ages 17 and up.