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Clarke and Ridley manage to find some contemporary political resonance in the milieu of Roman-occupied Judea, drawing some clear parallels between the Roman army’s control of the Jews and the over-policing of black Americans, including a robust debate over the efficacy and righteousness of violence as a response to oppression (a cry of “Jewish lives matter! But given the dictates of the film’s narrative, they have little room to explore these issues beyond merely hinting at them.Throughout, , suggesting that this film’s chariot race could have offered some over-the-top camp delirium.
But when the chariot race finally happens, it’s disappointingly directed in good taste, and with a total lack of imagination.
Bekmambetov offers nothing new to the cinematic lexicon of the chariot race: chariots flip out, horses tumble, guys get run over.
This intentional anachronism is as effective in its way as Iannucci’s decision in to cast hysterically incongruous people in the main roles, from a man-child cockney as the eponymous Russian despot to a boy from Brooklyn with the last name Buscemi as the power-hungry Khrushchev.
There’s something especially powerful about how the breezy goes out of time.
A training scene in which Ilderim (Freeman) instructs Ben-Hur that he must master the art of the “tilt”—raising the chariot onto one wheel as it goes around a bend, like a Roman equivalent of the “Tokyo drift”—seems to promise as much.
So, too, does a murky, hellish naval battle, shot from inside a ship and featuring a nonstop barrage of hot tar and flaming arrows., an ambitious interweaving of the adventures of the fictional Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur with the life of Jesus, was the bestselling novel of its day, a work noted for its ability to make Christianity accessible to modern readers and ground the stories of the New Testament in the real world.But in the public consciousness, Ben-Hur’s life is understood as the lead-up to a chariot race.Of course, it’s also hard to care because the film is conceived and directed less as a sweeping epic than as a talky, plotty, melodramatic made-for-TV special in the vein of , was co-produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey).Despite some pleasantly campy touches, from Morgan Freeman’s ridiculous dreadlocks, to Rodrigo Santoro’s portrayal of Jesus as a kind of sexy Jedi, to a hilariously disconsonant final shot featuring Ben-Hur and Messala riding horses in slow motion set to a schmaltzy pop song, Timur Bekmambetov’s film is a pretty staid affair. Clarke and John Ridley, compresses so much story into two hours, hitting not only all the major plot points from the three-and-a-half-hour 1957 version, but throwing in some additional backstory as well, that there’s little time left over to create any definable characters.A classic of faith, fortitud Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880) by Lew Wallace is one of the most popular and beloved 19th century American novels.This faithful New Testament tale combines the events of the life of Jesus with grand historical spectacle in the exciting story of Judah of the House of Hur, a man who finds extraordinary redemption for himself and his family. Cast: Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman, Toby Kebbell, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Ayelet Zurer, Haluk Bilginer, Moisés Arias, Pilou Asbæk, Marwan Kenzari, James Cosmo Director: Timur Bekmambetov Screenwriter: Keith R.Clarke, John Ridley Distributor: Paramount Pictures Running Time: 124 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2016 Buy: Video, Soundtrack—shows a much gentler, if no less audacious, side.After a serene prologue set in a packed theater where the adult David Copperfield (Dev Patel), standing at a lectern as if he were Spalding Gray in the 19th century, speaks the famous opening lines of Charles Dickens’s beloved novel, “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life…,” this adaptation stomps on the accelerator and barely lets up.David’s existence is told episodically—appropriate given the source material—and at a whimsically breakneck pace that can be off-putting.