Ben-Hur (2016) - Rotten Tomatoes

Ben-Hur (2016)

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Critic Consensus: How do you fight an idea? By filming a remake that has too few of its own, and tries to cover it up with choppy editing and CGI.

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Movie Info

The epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala, an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves, Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but an encounter with Jesus leads him to the Crucifixion, where he discovers forgiveness and finds redemption.

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Cast

Jack Huston
as Judah Ben-Hur
Toby Kebbell
as Messala
Haluk Bilginer
as Simonides
Pilou Asbæk
as Pontius Pilate
David Walmsley
as Marcus Decimus
Yorgos Karamihos
as Sick Oarsman
Edoardo Purgatori
as Angry Slave
Ioan Gunn
as Gestas
Simone Spinazze
as Garrison Captain
James Cosmo
as Quintas
Craig Peritz
as Market Centurion
Maurice Lee
as Simon Cyrene
Giorgio Bonelli
as Roman Guard
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News & Interviews for Ben-Hur

Critic Reviews for Ben-Hur

All Critics (164) | Top Critics (30)

Though it seems unlikely to dislodge William Wyler's 1959 version, its story of a Judean prince (Jack Huston) who keeps running into Jesus of Nazareth (Rodrigo Santoro) offers plenty of action and spectacle.

August 25, 2016 | Full Review…
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

An amateurish effort that boasts direct-to-video characteristics, the latest version disappoints in almost every production aspect.

August 21, 2016 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
ReelViews
Top Critic

Something soulless and empty, with all the mystery and grandeur of the tale just gone.

August 21, 2016 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

The last of the summer's movie epics is a digitalized eyesore hobbled in every department by staggering incompetence.

August 20, 2016 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Just because you're rolling in the chariot doesn't make you Charlton Heston. That's a lesson this weightless, instantly disposable remake of the 1959 sword-and-sandal Oscar winner learns the hard way.

August 19, 2016 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Ben-Hur has clearly been designed and marketed to feed the appetite for projects with a spiritual foundation. Beyond the merits of that concept, though, there's precious little to celebrate creatively speaking.

August 19, 2016 | Full Review…
CNN.com
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Ben-Hur

Remake totalmente innecesario. Ben-Hur es una idea que jamas debió de haberse tocado ya que la version de 1959 era perfecta. Además, como puedes hacer un remake que tiene pésimas actuaciones, pésima dirección, pésima edición, pésimo TODO. Da un coraje enorme que estando el cine tan caro se lo desperdicien haciendo estas porquerías. De veras no la vean.

Fernando Martínez Cantú
Fernando Martínez Cantú

Super Reviewer

Ben-Hur epitomizes the ill-advised remake that no wanted to see and no wanted to make. It was, truth be told, a film that I looked forward to eviscerating -- an example of Hollywood gone wrong with big budget filmmaking, relying more upon name recognition than actual content or inspiration. And I was completely wrong, as Ben-Hur proves a more solid retelling than anyone anticipated or even deserved. It is spectacular or even great? No. Ben-Hur 2016 wanders into generic modern remake territory occasionally, but what it does it does well. In fact, it sports advantages over its predecessors whether it's the 1886 novel by Lew Wallace, the original 1925 silent film, or the classic and beloved 1959 movie directed by William Wyler. (I am familiar with all of these by the way.) The narrative framework revolves almost entirely upon the friendship and rivalry between Judah Ben-Hur and Messala. In fact, where in previous versions Messala turns into a cartoonish villain as the story progresses, here he remains sympathetic throughout and shares near equal screen time with the protagonist. Furthermore, whereas the galley/naval battle scene was done better in 1959, this version's chariot race may actually end up being my favorite for being incredibly brutal and raising the stakes even higher for its protagonist. Though, I absolutely love how this movie essentially slaps both Ben-Hur and Messala for pursuing a path of egotistical vengeance hung up in macho pride. Lastly, the heavy-handed religious parable that defined the final act of the 1959 version has been toned down in favor of a condensed version that emphasizes the passion story more in terms of personal redemption for our two main leads than the usual religious messaging. Now to where it falls short. William Wyler's 1959 classic sported one of the greatest musical scores of all time. Put it this way - no one is winning an Oscar for best original score here. As said before, much of the film can fall into generic blandness as times, but more troubling is the fact that so much effort goes into the primary relationship of the film, that no other relationship or performance stands out. It also lacks the grandeur of its immediate predecessor, but I suspect that may be intentional, as this is supposed to be a more realistic and grounded approach to the same story we all know. The artistic feat of not showing Christ's face is gone now, with the usual Jesus cameos to keep Ben-Hur hydrated and honest. Oh and Morgan Freeman is so out of place in this movie. He gives it his all, but his dreadlocks prove distracting and his modern affectations are jarring. So is it worth your time? To many this may appear to be attempt to cash in on the faith-based film craze that has happened in recent years and may turn off potential audiences. This is not really the case, and while religious viewers are not turned away, this is more for general audiences. It obviously doesn't compare in quality to what came before, but it does have enough merit to stand on its own and is worth a screening. In fact I view it as an interesting alternate universe take, considering the GIGANTIC twist it plays in the third act. It's a shame that it was saddled with an obnoxious budget and unrealistic expectations. It may prove to be successful overseas and become a cult hit - the John Carter of 2016 if you will. But that's just speculation. So yes give Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Two Brothers a shot. It needs the chance.

Joshua Sheetz
Joshua Sheetz

Super Reviewer

Rarely are classics improved upon with remakes, others tend to tarnish the original versions. This iteration of Ben-Hur tends to fall somewhere in between those two extremes. There was no need to remake Ben-Hur to begin with. I'm not even sure why they had to do an animated version in the early 2000's and bring back Heston. The 1959 tale is a classic and the chariot race will never be touched. It did so much for filmmaking at that time and attempting to top it in any way shape or form, is a huge mistake. While I don't think they tarnished the legacy of the original, it also didn't fix some easy mistakes that the 1959 film made. The crux of the story in both cases is the troubled relationship between Judah Ben-Hur and Messala Severus, this time played by Jack Huston and Toby Kebbell respectively. With that said, in both films they make the same mistake of forcing the Jesus arc into what is already a jam packed film. I'm not saying I can't appreciate the faith element, I can. But there are other ways to portray Ben-Hur's struggle to come to grips with his faith and lack there-of. By forcing the Jesus angle into the film, it becomes painfully uneven. Either make him a more demanding presence or cut it out completely, make a choice. However, there are plenty of good things about this remake. Kebbell and Huston actually hold their own as friends (brothers?) turned foes due to political issues. I really enjoyed watching their relationship unfold into surprising directions. At the same time, the ending that was chosen for that relationship is absolutely one hundred percent garbage, and unfortunately is the exact direction a clichéd Hollywood film would take them. Morgan Freeman (with putrid dreadlocks) is also quite good in the film, and not as distracting as the trailers make it seem. Having just watched the 1959 version recently, I think Freeman is just as good as Hugh Griffith was as Ben-Hur's companion, Ilderim. There are plenty of refreshing choices this film makes in its story structure that are beneficial to the story, and I enjoyed those updated elements. But it's unfortunate that a sword and sandals epic in 2016 just doesn't hold the same type of gravitas that it did back in the day. The new chariot race is fine, but I think I still prefer the 1959 take even more. And as good as I thought Kebbell and Huston were, I can't possibly believe they hold a candle to what Heston and Boyd did. I didn't hate the update, but man it could have been a whole lot better. +Kebbell and Huston hold their own +New updates improve the flow -But with the Jesus angle, it's still incredibly uneven -Wretched Hollywood ending 4.7/10

Thomas Drufke
Thomas Drufke

Super Reviewer

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