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Movie Review: 'Ben-Hur' Return to Usual Summer Blockbuster

by Todd A. Smith


(Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures)


Return of True Summer Blockbuster 



In movie critic circles, talk has intensified over the last couple of years about the fact that many summer blockbusters do not provide escapism like in past decades.

Summer blockbusters once provided an escape from the harsh realities of the real world, but now movies like “Jason Bourne” and “Suicide Squad” bring too many depressing current events into the picture like terrorism.

“Ben-Hur” is a splendid reminder of yesteryear, when summer movies provided action, great storylines and an escape from the headlines.

“Ben-Hur” tells the story of two brothers, Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a descendant of Jewish royalty and the adopted Roman, Messala Severus (Toby Kebbell).

Although the Romans and Jewish zealots are at odds, Judah and Messala are thick as thieves.

Judah’s father took in Messala when the young Roman’s forefather was killed trying to fight Julius Caesar.

The Ben-Hur patriarch wanted to show his countrymen what true unity could look like between the warring groups.

However, Judah never feels like one of the Ben-Hur family members.

And when Judah is severely injured while horse racing with Messala, the family divide is never so clear.

Their mother blames Messala for the accident.

Furthermore, she has a problem with the budding romance between Messala and his adopted sister.

Messala desperately wants to prove his worth in society and make up for his family’s disobedience to Caesar, while also proving he is more than just a Ben-Hur family charity case.

He joins the Roman army to fight Jewish zealots, even though his adopted family is Jewish royalty.

He becomes a respected Roman soldier, but when Judah cannot guarantee safety for Pontius Pilate (Pilou Asbaek), the love between the brothers is tested to the utmost degree.

“Ben-Hur” is a good film because it combines good acting, good action, beautiful visuals and a message of forgiveness that is needed in today’s society.

It combines the teachings of Jesus Christ without being overtly evangelical, which will make it easier to appeal to a wider fan base.

“Ben-Hur” shows how people of different religious beliefs can coexist in harmony and how family is more than just blood relatives.

The chemistry onscreen between Huston and Kebbell makes the film shine, because their brotherly bond is palpable.

They love each other despite the differences in their lineage.

Furthermore, Morgan Freeman is in “Ben-Hur,” and he brings the funk, as journalist Roland Martin would say, in every film he stars in.

The war scenes at sea are very realistic and visually stunning.

Additionally, the circus scene is riveting and very timely considering the fact that the world is in the midst of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The only thing “Ben-Hur” could have done differently was adding something extra to the crucifixion scene with Jesus to make the story more complete.

Nonetheless, these are the type of summer blockbusters that many people say they want to see.

Great acting.

Great action.

Great visuals.


And a great escape from reality. 






This article was published on Friday 19 August, 2016.
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