What was William Wyler‘s 1959 classic Ben-Hur missing? Well, for starters, it didn’t have massive CGI spectacle, Morgan Freeman sporting dreadlocks, and the director of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The Ben-Hur of the past can be brushed aside in favor of Timur Bekmambetov‘s updated take on the classic novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ. This revamped biblical tale stars Jack Huston in the role made iconic by Charlton Heston, and co-stars alongside the aforementioned Freeman, Toby Kebbell, and Pilou Asbæk.
Frankly, it’s all but impossible to recreate the wonder of the legendary chariot race by employing CGI, gutting the epic feeling from the grand spectacle. Bekmambetov is a gifted visual filmmaker, but I sincerely doubt that he has the chops to handle the material without anything other than an eye for stylized action sequence, likely leaving the stronger religious themes off to the side.
But I’ve been wrong about being skeptical about remakes before, and will never write off a movie without seeing the finished product. Marketing, like the trailer below, is frequently misleading, and this trailer for Ben-Hur paints the story as a rather generic swords and sandals revenge tale. We’ll know for sure when Ben-Hur opens in theaters nationwide on August 12th, 2016.
The official synopsis for Ben-Hur:
BEN-HUR is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption. Based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Also starring Morgan Freeman and Rodrigo Santoro.