‘Ben-Hur’ (2016, 12A)

The third incarnation of the story to hit the big screen, is ‘Ben-Hur’ a film fit for a prince?

After being falsely accused of treason by his Roman army officer brother (Toby Kebbell), Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) is sent to the galleys to be a slave aboard a ship. For the next five years, he thinks of nothing but revenge against his brother. Then, after his ship is sunk, he washes up on the shores of the mysterious Ilderim’s (Morgan Freeman) settlement. From there he discovers his talent for chariot racing and soon finds himself racing against Rome’s best chariot racer — his own brother.

Before you continue reading, bare in mind that I have not seen either of the two previous ‘Ben-Hur’ films and so am reviewing this one as a film as oppose to a ‘Ben-Hur’ film.

That said, I quite enjoyed watching ‘Ben-Hur’. The plot, although old and used many times before, was good and, for the most part, I was never really bored. However, the beginning of the film was bit slow and I found myself clock-watching for the first fifty minutes or so, willing the film to finally pick-up and get moving. Fifty minutes sounds like quite a long time to be classed as the beginning of a film and it is, especially when you consider it takes up almost half of the 125-minute run-time.

With that long beginning, I then felt the middle of the film was a bit rushed. I thought it could’ve done a better job showing Ben-Hur’s training for the chariot race as all there really was was a short montage of him racing around a few tents. I also felt that there could’ve been more time spent with the character of Messala Severus, Ben-Hur’s brother, as we only got small hints as to how scared he was of Ben-Hur’s chariot skills.

This all climaxed then with the famous chariot race, a good ten minutes of solid racing and it was good. Unlike the beginning of the film, it was fast and gripping, the tension between the brothers really shown as they battled it out next to each other. However, I must say that the special effects in this scene, and the rest of the film, left a lot to be desired. In this modern age, the CGI looked dated and amateur and it didn’t take a lot to realise that in a lot of scenes the horses and crowds were computer-animated.

Overall, ‘Ben-Hur’ is an enjoyable action film with a spectacular ending and plot. However, it’s pacing problems and poor special effects result in me giving it six-out-of-ten.



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