This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last, big screen adaptation of Lew Wallace’s classic novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ, but it may very well be the most explosive version. Of course, many will know the 1959 Academy Award winning version of Ben-Hur, starring Charlton Heston and directed by William Wyler. Yet, director Timur Bekmambetov isn’t deterred by history or the inevitable microscope his version will be held under.
However, one search on Google will reveal nothing but contempt for Bekmambetov’s Ben-Hur, with many calling it nothing more than a cash grab and featuring nothing but hacks, which is somewhat harsh. The question is whether such a movie can be successful in the modern era of cinema. Yes, it has all the flashing lights and gimmickry we expect from any blockbuster (CGI galore, 3D, summer release). But one thing is certain, recent attempts at Biblical epics (Noah) and the vast majority of historical dramas (Exodus: Of Gods and Kings, Pompeii) have been trashed at the box office.
Nonetheless the story is a slight tweaking of the 1959 classic, with Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), a Roman army officer. Separated from his beloved Esther (Nazanin Boniadi), he soon finds himself thrown into slavery for five years. However, he finally gets his chance of freedom when the galley he is on is shipwrecked and falls under the tutelage of Sheik Ilderim (Morgan Freeman). Needless to say, it isn’t long before he can gain revenge on those who wronged him in a chariot race, because this is Ben-Hur after all.
Whether it bombs or not, only time will tell. Irish audiences can expect chariots galore when Ben-Hur hits screens in August this year.