Perhaps you’ve seen the original, perhaps you haven’t. Perhaps you heard of it, or perhaps you, like my adult children, are saying, Ben-Who? Either way, despite what the professional critics say, the remake of the celebrated 1959 epic and classic film Ben-Hur is worth going to see. Produced by Paramount Pictures with executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, this film stars Morgan Freeman, Jack Huston and Toby Kebbell. The original film was based on the 1880 Lew Wallace novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of The Christ.
Taking place in Jerusalem, and surrounding areas during Jesus’ day, it’s the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted bother Messala, an officer in the Roman army. Judah is forced into slavery and spends five years in the galley of a Roman battleship. Racked with bitterness and hate, he eventually escapes and returns to his homeland. The revenge-driven Judah encounters Jesus and ultimately discovers forgiveness and redemption.
The film was reduced to two hours in length. Who wants to see a three-and-a-half-hour movie anymore?
Jesus is a character in the film, appearing in several scenes teaching and ministering. The crucifixion scene, while short, is a pivotal part of the redemption story.
Scenes in the galley of the ship and the sea battle where Judah makes his escape were outstanding. The plot and some of the powerful scenes reminded me of the 2002 classic film The Count of Monte Cristo.
Ben-Hur’s chariot race lived up to its reputation as the chariot race of all chariot races.
The film was reduced to 2 hours in length. The shorter length omitted some of the character development and plot.
(Spoiler Alert) At the conclusion, every subplot which appeared hopeless was quickly wrapped up with a happily-ever-after ending. While I was glad it all worked out, it bordered on being unrealistic.
PG-13 for sequences of violence and disturbing images. There was mild sexual content and little inappropriate language. This is not a movie for children.
If you have seen the original 1959 version of Ben-Hur and find yourself making comparisons, the movie might bring some disappointment. If you haven’t seen the original version, go see it for what it’s worth in its own right. For many, the original version is hard to beat. And who can fill the shoes of Charlton Heston? While it doesn’t succeed at everything, the movie is well worth going to see. Moviegoers will walk away with the hope that despite unfortunate events, mistakes and tragedies, there is hope for forgiveness, understanding and healing for every family.
3 out of 4 stars