Should you see Ben-Hur? Yes! Well… no. Hmm, maybe? Here’s the rub, folks. The newest incarnation of the Ben-Hur movie is no masterpiece.
Is it quite obviously a product of the lack of creativity in Hollywood movies these days? Yup. Is it a quintessential example of the aversion movie studios have to taking risks on new ideas? Without a doubt!
But does it innovate on the existing intellectual property in a way that makes it worth two hours of your life and the cost of a movie ticket? Yeah it does, sorta.
Ben-Hur is a Solid 6/10
As of the time of this writing, Ben-Hur is floating around a 4.6/10 on IMDB. Come on now, people! 4.6?! That’s insane.
Granted I’m a bleeding heart when it comes to movies and generally give them more credit than the average bear (it still takes effort to make a horrible movie, afterall), but that rating makes no sense for this movie. If 2 Fast 2 Furious gets a 5.9 then, for the love of Judah, Ben-Hur should get at least a 6 – if not a 7.
Let’s break it down. The casting/acting was decent and didn’t take me out of the movie at all (except for Morgan Freeman who shouldn’t have been in this movie in any way). The pacing was acceptable and didn’t go on too much longer than I cared for. The music was… ehh, alright the music was weird at some points, I’ll give you that. Still the action was exactly what you’d expect from a Ben-Hur movie in 2016.
Re-watch Ben-Hur 1959 Before You See The 2016 Version
I re-watched Ben-Hur 1959 right after seeing this one. I’ll tell you, that movie does not hold up well. The setting was epic, I’ll give you that; no CGI in 1959 so everything looked very “real”. But everything else was god-awful compared to what we’re accustomed to these days. I’m as much of a fan of Charlton Heston as anyone, however all through that movie I’m acutely aware that I’m watching an actor act.
That being said, the newest version of Ben-Hur has quite a few nods to the 1959 one that gives it almost an endearing and nostalgic flair that’s almost worth sitting through nearly four hours of Christian propaganda.
(Note to you: I did not watch the 1925 Ben-Hur. As a millennial I just didn’t have the patience. I tried and failed. Forgive me.)
A Decade Too Late
Here’s another thing to keep in mind. This movie suffers from being too late of a remake. Back in the 50’s, I’m sure people’s balls were blown right off with the epicness of the whole affair. Seeing horses ride around in a circle for half an hour must have been the highlight of their lives.
…is the lovechild combination of The Count of Monte Cristo, Gladiator, The Phantom Menace with a hefty dose of The Passion of the Christ thrown in for good measure.
By 2016, though, we’ve seen our fair share of legendary moments in movies. Whether that’s worldwide destruction in Independence Day, the surreal fighting of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, the slow motion takedowns in 300, or everything that’s ever happened in any Marvel movie in the last decade – we’re no stranger to awesome movie moments.
Ben-Hur’s big money-shot is a horse race. No bells. No whistles.
And I’ll tell ya, that horse race is exactly like the podracing in The Phantom Menace. In fact, the entire movie is the lovechild combination of The Count of Monte Cristo, Gladiator, The Phantom Menace with a hefty dose of The Passion of the Christ thrown in for good measure. That ended up working well for me since I love those movies.
Final Verdict: Watch or Not?
Should you watch this movie… Should you watch this movie… hmmmm….
Look. If, like me, you’ve enjoyed all the Fast & Furious movies. If, like me, you still think the Clash of the Titans trailer was the best mother-flipping trailer you’ve ever seen. If, like me, you regularly fantasize about being betrayed by someone you love only to come back to them years later to crush them financially, emotionally and physically with the world watching and cheering your inevitable success… then yeah, you should watch this movie.
Avoid the 3D, take a shot of bourbon beforehand, and enjoy the show.