The 2016 version of Ben Hur is a pale, shallow rendition of the classic novel by Lew Wallace published in 1880. Despite the modern, computer generated special effects it features, it also pales in comparison to the film rendition from 1959 which starred Charlton Heston in the leading role and won 11 academy awards.
For a movie which runs over 2 hours, it is remarkably short on character and plot development. The dramatic action, with the exception of the chariot race which is of course the main event, was also disappointing. Key plot elements in this version of the film are also different from the original novel, in ways which change the entire nature of the story.
Some of the political points the movie attempted to make were also somewhat bizarre, if taken as commentary on current events.
However, this movie is also a miracle.
It is a miracle that Hollywood released a big budget movie which included such a positive portrayal of Jesus Christ, including word for word recitals of passages from the Gospels and well as the writings of the Apostle Paul, and it’s also a miracle that this movie was shown here in Israel.
Perhaps someone just couldn’t resist the irony of showing a movie about events that took place in ancient Jerusalem in modern Jerusalem.
Whatever the reason, this movie was seen by a large number of Jewish Israelis and while it would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that they “heard the Gospel” they DID hear fragments of it and they DID see Jesus portrayed in a very positive way. The overall message of the movie, that forgiveness and reconciliation are better than revenge, was also faithful to the original novel, perhaps even a bit more so than the 1959 epic.
Overall, I would say it’s a movie that’s definitely worth seeing and bringing along your friends to watch as well. But you’d better hurry, it probably won’t be in the theaters much longer.