Ben-Hur is a 2016 American epic historical action drama adventure film directed by Timur Bekmambetov and written by Keith Clarke and John Ridley. It is the fifth film adaptation of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace following the 1907 silent film, the 1925 silent film, the Academy Award-winning 1959 film and the 2003 animated film of the same name. It has been termed a “re-adaptation”, “reimagining” and “new interpretation” of the novel. The film stars Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman, Toby Kebbell, Nazanin Boniadi, Haluk Bilginer and Rodrigo Santoro.
Ben-Hur received generally negative reviews from critics and bombed financially having grossed just $41 million worldwide against its $100 million budget.
This film came at at a good time, as I was reading Jeremy Robinson’s ‘The Didymus Contingency’ at the same time. The book covers the same period, Rome about 30AD. It’s a big budget film ($100m) and it shows in the scope of locations and sets. However it could have done with a bit more spent on the script. There are times it feels a bit too modern in tone and language.
Morgan Freeman is the only actor I know in the cast. His role is to move to his mark and make important proclamations to us and other characters. Toby Kebbel is better as Messala than Jack Huston is as Judah Ben-Hur. The best parts of the film was the two big action sequences, one during a sea battle and the famous chariot racing at the end.
The film has been labelled as a ‘bomb’, bringing in just $41m (so far). The reason probably being the relatively unknown actors and a script that didn’t have much impact. Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is still the best film depicting this era. This film is just OK and gets a 3/5.