The tale of the plight and resurrection of a hero from Jerusalem, Ben-Hur has been retold through the big screen time and time again after it’s inception as a novel in 1880. In its 2016 reincarnation, Ben-Hur uses intense action-packed sequences and thematic elements throughout in attempt to capitalize on its former glory.
Without giving away all the details, the tale of Ben-Hur essentially revolves around two brothers, Judah Ben-Hur, a young man from royalty in Jerusalem, and Messala, a foster brother of Ben-Hur who later decides to leave his homeland to return to his roots in the Roman empire. After fighting and enslaving Ben-Hur as the Roman Army moves into Jerusalem, Messala leaves the army to become the empire’s top chariot driver, while Ben-Hur becomes a rowing slave on a Roman warship. However, Ben-Hur escapes his ship in a fierce battle and winds up a battered survivor on the shore of the African coast. He is quickly brought up under the wing of Sheik Ilderim, a Shepard that trains Judah to become a chariot driver and race Messala in a final battle for his dignity, pride, and freedom.
I sat through Ben-Hur last week ready to relive my childhood memories of watching the animated, 2003 edition of Ben-Hur over and over again. While I will say this version was much more serious, as I heard no jokes made during the movie, it was nice to know that the plot lines stayed relatively similar to the previous adaptations. Due to studying the subject prior to viewing the movie, I especially enjoyed the sequence that showcased the assembly of the Roman troops as they moved into battle. And although the special effects are occasionally unpolished, it won’t detract from your overall movie experience.
Overall, the latest installment in the Ben-Hur franchise doesn’t disappoint, easily placing in the top ten movies of this summer. If you’re the slightest bit interested in history, specifically that of ancient empires and dynasties, and want to see a movie with plenty of chariot-racing action, a good plot, and a fantastic ending, don’t hesitate to see the 2016 film adaptation of Ben-Hur.