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CLIPS Movie Review by Roger Tennis


BEN-HUR 2016  movie


RATED PG-13 (sequences of violence and disturbing images)

RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes
DIRECTOR: Timur Bekmambetov

Jack Huston - Judah Ben-Hur
Toby Kebbell - Messala Severus
Nazanin Boniadi - Esther
Ayelet Zurer - Naomi Ben-Hur
Sofia Black-D'Elia - Tirzah Ben-Hur
Rodrigo Santoro - Jesus
Morgan Freeman - Ilderim
Pilou Asbæk - Pontius Pilate

The epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala, an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves, Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption. - Paramount Pictures

It's impossible to top William Wyler's 1959 cinematic spectacle and this fact is proven once again. Director Timur Bekmambetov ("Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter") tries hard to bring this story to a new generation, but fails to inspire or add fresh blood. Aided by cinematographer Oliver Wood, Bekmambetov shoots all action sequences close-up and shaky to match what today's audience expects from big screen adventures, but it's confusing for my generation. The added 3D is too dark to make a difference. Nearly 90 minutes shorter than that wide-screen classic, this version still feels overly long. The cast can't really be faulted. Jack Huston delivers a fine performance in the title role, but can't get out from under the shadow of Charlton Heston. While a welcome sight, Morgan Freeman adds little beyond narration to his role as the wealthy sheik who befriends and helps Judah. Toby Kebbell's Messala may be a slight improvement over Stephen Boyd's portrayal in 1959. The tightly-shot chariot race is at least exciting and intense, but not enough to exceed expectations. With its depiction of Jesus Christ and the crucifixion, church groups may boost attendance. Unlike the earlier masterpiece, this "Ben-Hur" crashes in spectacular fashion.