This is my late review, and the official movie site is here.
Ben Hur is another adaptation of Lew Wallace’s biblical epic Ben-Hur: Tale of The Christ, following the beautiful 1907 and 1925 silent films, the 1959 Oscar Hoarding movie starring Charlton Heston and 2003 animated film. The 2016 story tells us about the complicated relationship between Jewish Prince Judah Ben Hur (Jack Huston) and his adopted brother Messala Severus (Toby Kebbell), their ups and downs, and Ben Hur’s encounter with the sexy (literally) Jesus from Nazareth (Rodrigo Santoro). The whole movie tells us how Ben Hur turns from a boyish prince into a slave, then his encounter with Sheikh Ilderim (Morgan Freeman) changes him into a chariot racer, to his climactic race against Messala.
I don’t even know why I watched this movie at first. I know that the 1959 is my favorite, and I don’t wanna ruin the entire grandeur image of that adaptation with watching this new version. However, then I finally decided to watch, and soon regretting my decision. This 2016 adaptation is nowhere of even shadowing the previous adaptation, even with all the CGIs and blockbuster hype. The 1959 version is a balance mix between colossal action, biblical storytelling, and grandeur relationship between the characters, and seems the director of this 2016 version is too lazy to put all those mixtures together. If the 1959 movie is like a grande wedding cake with very delightful feelings when you eat it, this 2016 is maybe just a mixture that even has not been baked! It feels like a puzzle with bad editings and lame storytelling, and the puzzle is not forming any big picture. The director even feels put little to no interest of deepening the relationship between characters, or even in showing us the background of each characters (you can barely know Morgan Freeman’s character is a Sheikh unless you’ve checked out their wikipedia page before) and just focusing on the climactic horse chariot race. The feeling when Ben Hur meets Jesus is also feels hollowed. Phew. Oh, and Ben Hur doesn’t wear blue. Big disappointment for me hahaha…
However, as I said before, the director is just focusing into action scenes, and their action scenes are great. The scenes where the ship crashed feels so real that it just feels like a VR experience to all of us. The climactic horse chariot race is also feels amazing, looks fulfilling the whole hollowness the movie left from the beginning. And not to mention that Morgan Freeman narrated the whole movie, so you can enjoy his godly voice.