Movie Review "Ben-Hur"

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Originally released in 1959, Paramount Studios and Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer (MGM) Pictures presented the new version in 3D. The new film is directed by Timur Beckmamnetov and produced by Sean Daniel, Joni Levin and Duncan Henderson. Along with Executive Producers Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, Keith Clarke, John Ridley and Jason F. Brown, the film brings a new look and feel to the original that will keep movie viewers of all ages on the edge of their seats.

Like the original, this version based on the screenplay by Keith Clarke and John Ridley brings us the story of Judah Ben-Hur and his path of revenge.

The film starts out with the first few minutes of the famous chariot race, but flashes back to Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell). Best friends and “brothers” since childhood, a freak accident during a competitive race cause hard feelings between Messala and his adopted mother. The events lead to Messala’s departure to find himself. While Ben-Hur a Jewish Prince remains in Jerusalem with his mother, Noemi (Avelet Zurer) and sister Tirzah (Sofia Black D’Elia).

Messala’s return as an officer of the Roman army brings changes to not only the city but to Judah and his family which now includes Esther (Nazanin Boniadi) previously a Jewish slave and now the wife of Judah. After a happy reunion, a series of unfortunate events, lead to Ben-Hur being falsely accused and punished for treason against the Roman empire. Messala is forced to sentence Ben-Hur to a life of slavery. After spending 5 years in the galley of a Roman slave ship, Ben-Hur escapes when the ship is lost in a battle. Judah is rescued by the wealthy Sheik llderim (Morgan Freeman) who plays a prominent figure in the training of Ben-Hur as a charioteer and helps plot revenge against Messala.

Unlike the 1959 award winning film which starred Charlton Heston, the new version brings several characters forward in bigger roles and allows the film to take a modern approach to the timeless classic. Morgan Freeman along with Nazanin Boniadi’s characters come across stronger and provide much better depth, influencing key scenes to allow the viewer to see Ben-Hur in a modern light while keeping the emotional themes of the original 1880 novel written by Lew Wallace. Rodrigo Santoro portrays Jesus perfectly bringing a calm and peaceful strength to each scene. His strong presence throughout the film enhances the storyline to an almost spiritual degree. And his miracles may well renew faith and hope in the hearts and souls of many film viewers.

While the famous chariot race near the end will have your heart racing faster than the horses at each turn of the track, the pivotal scene of Jesus’ crucifixion and Ben-Hur’s reaction will cause your heart and breath to pause.
An emotional uplifting film that reminds viewers of how far love, hate, revenge and forgiveness can take us.

Ben-Hur is now playing in theaters. Ben-Hur is the movie of the year!

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