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|Laufzeit:||Ca. 123 Min.|
|FSK:||From 12 years|
There are movies that almost everyone knows, even if you haven't actually seen them. "Ben Hur" by William Wyler from 1959 with Charlton Heston is one such film. The almost four-hour epic is part of the cultural history of the 20th century and is still one of the milestones in cinema history today. Even though the ravages of time have gnawed a little at the film, not only the legendary chariot race still works surprisingly well today. Nevertheless, Hollywood was convinced that it would be a good idea to pimp the classic once more and to stage a remake for action specialist Timur Bekmambetov. In the USA the remake was torn apart by critics and also the audience was not very enthusiastic. But is the film really so bad that this justifies the total flop at the American box offices?
The core of the story has remained unchanged. However, the story based on the novel by Carol Wallace was streamlined to a running time of just under two hours. The focus is on the wealthy Judah Ben Hur (Jack Huston), who is falsely accused of assassinating Pontius Pilatus (Pilou Asbæk) and, betrayed by his adoptive brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), lands as a slave on a Roman galley. In the following years there is only one goal for Ben Hur: to survive, to take revenge on Messala and to see his great love Esther (Nazanin Boniadi) again. When he finally manages to return to Jerusalem, there is only one way for him to get freedom and justice. He must defeat Messala in a deadly chariot race…
The 2016 "Ben Hur" is by no means as bad as one might have feared according to the votes from the USA. But unfortunately this remake is not a really good movie either. There are some very well done action scenes, such as the collision that leads to the demise of the slave galley, or of course the car race that comes with some spectacular 3D moments. But for every thrilling moment, there are at least three extremely long-winded dialogue scenes, full of involuntary comedy. Even a seasoned mime like Morgan Freeman is not strong enough to play against the clichéd script. Moreover, especially with the sporadic appearance of Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro) you get the feeling that the makers don't think their audience is intelligent enough to understand who the man is. Because the little subtle way in which Santoro has to recite well-known moments from the Bible here almost borders on the annoyingly ridiculous.
But that's not the biggest criticism "Ben Hur" has to deal with. Bekmambetov perfectly understands how to make his movie look good, so that one could overlook some dramaturgical weaknesses. The real problem is rather that the movie is at times frighteningly boring and staged extremely conservative. One is simply not carried away by the fate of the figures, because they are drawn far too one-dimensionally. Here we really saved at the wrong end and it remains to be hoped that Hollywood will learn from such a flop. Because good effects and a little spectacle are not enough, if the script and especially the main actors are lacking. It may be that Jack Huston is a decent actor. However, he lacks the necessary charisma that his predecessor Charlton Heston, for example, broadcast. Huston has no corners or edges whatsoever and is therefore extremely interchangeable - which of course is not exactly conducive to a heroic epic like this.
Whoever hopes that this remake is a great epic with a lot of spectacle and high show values will be at least partially satisfied. Anyone who manages to overlook the flat dialogues and the many clichés could actually be entertained very well. But those who also expect a little more depth from the story and its characters will be bitterly disappointed. And that's why there's only one thing left, even with some big cutbacks: Worth seeing!
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