Review: Ben-Hur bets it all on the horses


Ben-Hur | Dir: Timur Bekmambetov | Rated: M | In Cinemas Now | ★ 1/2

If two and a half hours of slow paced, desperately dull bible porn is your idea of a fun time at the movies then ‘Ben-Hur’ will be right up your alley.

The story begins with an impressively thrilling opening sequence that sets the vaguely homoerotic tension between the titular Judah Ben-Hur and his brother Messala Severus.

Unfortunately what follows is a tepid drawn out build up to the iconic chariot race at the film’s climax that is more effective as a sleeping aid than Ambien.

It’s as though the filmmakers were banking on sating the appetite of a caught between seasons ‘Game of Thrones’ audience, but forgot to include nearly enough sex and violence.

Despite the best efforts of the devastatingly attractive cast, no amount of eye candy can compensate for what is essentially a poorly realised mash up of ‘300’, ‘Passion of the Christ’ (in this version Jesus is Spanish and sexy as hell) and ‘Gladiator’.

The unexpected (and unintentional) highlight of the movie is Morgan Freeman, who plays the wise elderly black mentor to ‘Ben-Hur’, who for reasons entirely unexplained sports a salt and pepper dreadlocked hair do that makes you wonder why he and Whoopi Goldberg never starred together in a remake of ‘Twins’.

For a movie that sells itself solely on recreating the chariot race from the 1959 original, ‘Ben-Hur’ spends far too much time labouring under the weight of its own pious virtuosity.

By the time those chariots start rolling in what is a genuinely nail biting edge of the seat experience, it feels like watching ‘Titanic’ and wondering when the damn boat is going to sink already.

Remaking a classic is always a risk and in this case the $100 million Paramount Pictures rolled the dice on hasn’t paid off.

Clinton Little

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