Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Newest Ben-Hur movie is half the length of Charlton Heston's Oscar-winning film

Movie Title: Ben Hur
Grade:   B-

Rating:  PG-13, 124 minutes

In a Nutshell:   I grew up watching the 1959 Oscar-winning original every Easter when it would play on TV.  

As a Christian, I’m always grateful to see religious-based movies hit the Big Screen.  However, as a Christian, I’m often disappointed.  

While the Charlton Heston adaptation earned 11 Academy Awards, this 6th version will be mostly forgotten.   Watch the original instead.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Redemption.
  • Revenge vs. forgiveness
  • Mercy vs. justice
  • Fear vs. faith
  • Kindness vs. brutality

Things I liked:
  • This was filmed at the same site in Rome as the 1959 movie.
  • Some of the sets were actually very good.
  • The Roman ship battle scene was very impressive.  You’ll want to take a deep breath when it’s over.
  • The chariot race towards the end was brutal, action-packed, and pretty exciting.
  • Cheers to married couple Roma Downey and Mark Burnett who keep trying to bring family-friendly, inspiring movies to Christian audiences.  In fact, this adaptation shows more scenes with Jesus than any other version of Ben-Hur.
  • Jack Huston sells us on his character's development.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It doesn’t seem to have the same heart and soul as the Charlton Heston version. 
  • The first half of the movie was a bit of a snore fest.
  • Choppy editing.
  • There is a lot of very obvious foreshadowing.
  • This remake doesn’t really add anything new or even offer a different perspective to give audiences a reason to watch it.
  • A lot of CGI, although it was done well.
  • I always feel so sad for the horses in these sandal and sword movies.
  • I wanted to cry and really feel something, but the few touching scenes were too rushed.
  • Yeow!  Yeow!  Yeow!  Yeow!  (chariot race)
  • This remake is half the length of Charlton Heston’s famous film that lasted almost four hours.  Granted, four hours is really too long for a movie (the popcorn only lasts 20 minutes).  I guess you could call this version “efficient.”  
  • This movie will give you a headache if you see it in 3D.  2D is perfectly fine and enough.
  • When you see Morgan Freeman playing the old sage, you know this movie isn’t going to be offering anything new.  I mean, how many times have we seen him play that role already?  Don’t get me wrong.  I do love him.  But wait, Morgan Freeman in dreadlocks?  That's new.

Interesting lines:
  • “What should I do?” – Judah Ben-Hur  (Jack Huston)
“You’ve done enough.  Now pray!” – Naomi (Ayelet Zurer)
  • “Love your enemies.” – Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro)
“That’s progressive.” – Judah
“It’s the truth.” – Jesus
  • “We don’t kill all Romans.” – girl in tent
“Well, that’s not very comforting to the dead ones.” – Judah
  • “You confuse peace with freedom.” – man in tent
  • “You should have stayed away.” – Messala (Toby Kebbell)
“You should have killed me.” – Judah Ben-Hur  (Jack Huston)
“I will.” – Messala

Tips for parents:   

  • Fighting, blood, suffering, drowning, trampling.  In other words, LOTS of violent sequences.
  • Some kids just don't like older movies, so this newest version of Ben-Hur will be a nice introduction to this loosely-based Bible story for them.
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