The best thing that could have ever happened to Timur Bekmambetov’s dismal remake of Ben-Hur, was this year’s Ghostbusters. Whilst trolls have spent the last year making such a big fuss over the female-led reboot (only men ain’t afraid of no ghosts, apparently), the remake of what is arguably considered a much better film has somehow managed to slip through the net with little outcry from the branch of angry, Internet-dwelling creeps who give the film-community a bad name.
With their attentions turned to the ruination of the one film, something a lot worse has been made right before their very eyes; a film which manages to take a multiple Oscar-winning, three-and-a-half-hour long epic, and turn it into something which feels, at best, like it was made for television. And I’m not talking about the type of high quality television you may have come to expect from the BBC, but something more like the kind of cheaply made drivel you might instead see on Channel 5 on a Sunday afternoon.
Already a flop at the box-office, audience’s lack of interest in this Ben-Hur is wholly understandable. For anybody who has seen the 1959 film, the tremendously difficult task of trying to top or even match the quality of the classic – or the short films which came before it, for that matter – is almost guaranteed to put them off of this new version. And that’s before you even consider Ridley Scott’s modern-masterpiece, Gladiator, which has a number of plot similarities to ‘Hur’.
That in itself is one of the biggest problems with Bekmambetov’s re-telling – not just the fact that it fails to do anything different, but it’s nether as exciting or as engaging as anything that has come before it. Two action sequences aside – a scene in a galley and the climatic chariot race aren’t without their moments – it is a plodding and dreary remake which even manages to botch what should have been the film’s most powerful sequence, the crucifixion of Christ, by throwing in leprosy-healing rain – a moment which got multiple laughs from various members of the audience I saw the film with.
There’s nothing neccessarily angering about the film – excpet for another wasted Toby Kebbell performance, a fantastic actor whose best performance over the last few years has been a CGI ape – but that’s mainly because it’s so mind-numbingly boring that it never does anything worth getting annoyed about. Unlike the iconic Best Picture-winner, this isn’t as much a sweeping epic as it is best swept under the rug and forgetten about forever.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com