Leading man Jack Huston may not measure up to Charlton Heston, even with a hefty CGI boost, but the 2016 Ben-Hur is a stirring spectacle in its own right.
When it comes to the famous chariot race, this remake of William Wyler’s multi-Oscar-winning 1959 epic needs lashings of CGI to match its rousing predecessor, but the new Ben-Hur’s cinematic fakery doesn’t stop the sequence from being a stirring spectacle in its own right.
Nowhere near as dynamic as the action surrounding them, leads Jack Huston and Toby Kebbell fall well short of original stars Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd. But compared with Wyler’s three-and-half hour movie, Night Watch director Timur Bekmambetov (opens in new tab)’s two-hour film is positively brisk in showing how these former childhood friends – one a 1st-century Jewish prince, the other a Roman tribune – turn into mortal enemies.
Along the way, there’s a tremendous sea battle, which proves every bit as exciting as the climactic race - although desert sheik Morgan Freeman’s dreadlocks are almost as eye-popping.
Certificate 12. Runtime 123 mins. Director Timur Bekmambetov
Ben-Hur is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from 16 January, courtesy of Paramount Pictures & Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.
· Feature film in high definition · Ben-Hur: The Legacy · The Epic Cast · A Tale for Our Times · The Chariot Race · A Story of Christ · Deleted & Extended Scenes
A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.
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