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Ben-Hur

I went to this movie mostly out of a feeling of obligation from my movie addiction. After catching up on Mr Robot (#obsession) after work, I was kinda falling asleep. Reviews for the film were lackluster, and in keeping an eye on the weekend's movies times, I noticed the initial screens for it were reduced by half. While I had seen the original, I didn't really remember much (although apparently I liked it). All that negativity's there to say that I didn't expect I'd be really into the film.

Not that a lot of the buzz about it being a fairly weak remake isn't necessary untrue. I don't know that it really added a whole lot to the world of cinema, and I'm not likely to keep thinking about it next week. Somehow between the solid cast (Jack Huston was one of the few things that kept me watching Boardwalk Empire for a whole two seasons, fantastic here) and generally strong (though predictable) storytelling, I was with it. Things kept moving along nicely, and everytime I thought we were about to be dragged down by a longer than necessary action sequence, we weren't. They were all appropriately lengthed and well utilized.

Now a word about remakes. I tend to have mixed feelings about them as a concept. Mostly, I'm okay with them as long as they either bring something new to the table or have a solid reason for happening, other than trying to make some easy money. The following is one of the most well thought out responses to that question that I've ever come across. Taken directly from IMDB trivia:
Director Timur Bekmambetov explained the film's adaptation in a interview with Collider: "When we say "original Ben-Hur," we have to be very concrete about which original version we are talking about. There were two big screen versions made, in 1925 and 1959. These are the two most famous ones. There was also a Broadway stage version at the beginning of the [20th] century. There have been a lot of television versions. The Ben-Hur story reminds me of "Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet," and any story written by Chekhov. It is timeless, so every new generation wants to go back to it in order to adapt it for the new world. The screen version made in 1959 runs for four hours, and there is only a small number of people who can actually stay through the whole movie. It is about people different from us. And it's normal, because people used to be different. The audience was different, too, as well as the cinema language the film was made in. The 1959 movie was about revenge, not about forgiveness. For me that was the main problem, as I think that the novel is mainly about forgiveness, about the fact that a human being learned how to forgive. I got so excited about the project when I read John Ridley's script. I understood that John's vision of the story has so much light to it, and that he shares the same thoughts about a certain morals as I do. We talked with him about our modern world, which actually reminds me very much of a huge Roman Empire. In the Roman Empire, the most important important values were pride, rivalry, power, strength, the dictatorship of power and self-love. This kind of world does not have any prospects today. Humanity has to learn how to love and forgive. This would be our only solution."
That is reasoning I can get behind. And I have to say his theme really did come through very well. I was raised to believe in forgiveness over vengeance, and any time a character sought out vengenace, it didn't quite sit well with me. But that wouldn't be the end of the story. Forgiveness always won out, and those resolutions felt better. Even if the whole thing wrapped up a little too neatly, the idea felt right.

I'm not suggesting that this needs to be seen, although the minimal box office take is rather disheartening. I'm just saying that it might deserve more of a chance that it seems to have gotten.

Ben-Hur - \m/ \m/ \m/
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