From the start the hope of these Ben-Hur reviews being any good did not really stand a chance. With many acclaimed films coming before this really had to be very, very good.
Even Fred Nibble’s 1926 Ben-Hur film, which was expensive and high quality for it’s time, is still to this day very watchable. For it’s time it had some amazing special effects, er model work. And don’t forget we are talking about a silent black and white movie!
The classic 1959 Ben-Hur won 11 Oscars. This is noted for Gore Vidal’s controversial screenplay which with it’s obvious homoeroticism. Vidal and director William Wyler actually concealed from the film’s star Charlton Heston. Even this possible problem for it’s time did not stop it being so highly acclaimed.
For this 2016 Ben-Hur they unfortunately, even on the CGI side things, did not get it to work out. It escapes this week…
The Washington Post
Ben-Hur review by Michael O’Sullivan
It takes a fair amount of chutzpah, if not outright hubris, to remake a film that won 11 Academy Awards, including best picture, best director and best actor. But even if the makers of the new Ben-Hur were merely trying to match, and not improve upon, the 1959 sword-and-sandal epic… they have missed the mark.
Bekmambetov and Co have created a redesigned product that is at once inferior to the original and a slavish imitation. This new “Ben-Hur” could just as easily have been called “Been There, Done That.”
Rating: 1.5 stars, converted from their rating of 3.5/4 Full Review
The Hollywood Reporter
Ben-Hur review by Glenn Whipp
What’s the point of making a cut-rate version of Ben-Hur? Of creating a chariot race so heavily digitized and over-edited that it’s the worst scene in the picture? Of casting lightweights in the leading roles? Or of laying a wailing modern pop song over the end credits?
Misguided, diminished and dismally done in every way, this late-summer afterthought will richly earn the distinction of becoming the first Ben-Hur in any form to flop.
Rating: 1 star, from our reading of the review Full Review
The Guardian (UK)
Ben-Hur review by Glenn Whipp
This retelling of the classic tale, from the director of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, is unafraid to make wholesale changes, and all the better for it.
This new Ben-Hur is, as much as anything, a story about two brothers (slowly) learning how to love one another after jealousy and machismo get in the way.
I can’t emphasise enough how cheesy Ben-Hur gets towards the end, especially once Morgan Freeman shows up as an owner of chariot horses.
Rating: 3 stars Full Review
Ben-Hur review by Joe McGovern
A fresh take on Ben-Hur that is more noble, dweeby, and neutered than a Sunday school in South Dakota.
[Director] Bekmambetov’s action chops are on display during the chaotic slave galley sequence, which actually improves on the 1959 film, and not just technically.
The 1959 sequence is one of most famous in the history of movies because… audiences could easily follow the action, thanks to clean, generous wide shots. Bekmambetov’s insistence on close-ups might have been a budgetary matter, but the result is a muddled, inconsequential mess.
Rating: 3 Stars, converted from their rating of C Full Review