Ben-Hur is the remake of a classic religious based film following the titular brothers Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and Messala Severus (Tobby Kebbel). The two are very competitive in nature and eventually with some spite the adopted brother Messala heads out to join the Roman army. Many years later he returns a very changed man and things between the two quickly turn hostile. This equates to Judah being sent out to row for the fleet as a slave for many years until an opportunity reveals itself. Ben-Hur was actually a fairly decent story that just didn't have things quite build up properly. Initially the film didn't carry a heavy religious tone only implying it to a degree so it was rather surprising towards the end when it was shoehorned in and I won't go into great detail as not to cause potential spoilers. The film's story was actually all great with Judah mentioning on multiple occasions that it wasn't faith that pushed him yet it completely swayed his emotions in the latter of the film which made little sense. I was also expecting racing to be a bigger part of the film as that was well done, yet choppy in shots and brief only being a small singular race.
I was a big fan of the sets for the film as they felt very authentic to the region and the costume design was also noteworthy, I particularly love the Roman era so that was spot on here. The acting was also great for the cast capturing their serious roles well aside from Ilderim (Morgan Freeman) being too typical of a coach with dialogue that sometimes didn't fit. The cinematography was beautiful for the film making scenes feel tense and action sequences mostly epic. I didn't have any issues with any CGI elements and I felt each scene captured the feeling of the era well. The larger heavy set sections of the film also shined giving a grander scale of world while still fitting in a number of intimate scenes within tight spaces.
Ben-Hur was a decent film for sure building an epic adventure that never truly hit its goals. I liked the setup for the film seeing both sides of these two brothers, but it took a sharp turn towards not caring so much for this core area of conflict. They also pushed a bit too much with the rowing sections and there certainly should have been more chariot racing. The religious aspects fit in initially, but at the end were too apparent despite not really having any build-up. It's not that I'm against the imagery in films, it's just even Judah mentions multiple times that faith was not his driving force. The ending was also unsatisfying as it quickly just happened instead of any build-up and missed many possible opportunities to finish the plot without the overly too happy ending.
Review for Ben-Hur at Theater with 3D Viewing
Screening Provided by Paramount