Diana Vacc sees “Ben-Hur”

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by Diana Vaccarelli

*If you haven’t viewed this film yet be warned this review may contain spoilers!*

Hollywood has gotten into the habit of taking classic films and remaking them for a new generation. I believe there are pro’s and con’s to this.  Ben-Hur being the latest of such remakes (and a remake of a remake of a remake, no less), tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur back in the First Century A.D., a young Jewish royal falsely accused of treason who regains his name and honor during a pivotal chariot race.

THE GOOD:

  • The chariot race is visually stunning from start to finish. The violence, the camera angles, even the race track itself are truly stunning.
  • The performances are stellar and all the actors bring their characters to life.  Especially Jack Houston, who portrays Judah. He carries with him the reality of a man bent on vengeance and sadness. And at the end Houston makes us believe that he’s a real human being who learns the hard way that vengeance is not the answer to anybody’s problems.
  • The direction by Timur Bekmambetov brings a brilliant story to life with intelligence.  The scenery, costumes, and special effects come together with ease.

THE BAD: 

  • The writing of Jesus into the story seems forced and unnecessary to the plot. Even though the performance of Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus was perfect it was not needed to tell this story.
  • What makes this aspect especially bad is that the subtitle of the book the seemingly endless Ben Hur films have been about is “A Story of the Christ.” In other words, this version goes so overboard being the story of Judah that Jesus is totally unnecessary, which in its way makes the making of this film equally needless. Looks like some film execs have totally missed the point.

The summer is almost over so the blockbuster season will soon come to an end.  Enjoy what you can, and happy movie watching!