First ‘Ben-Hur’ Trailer Reveals Ambitious New Adaptation

     March 16, 2016


MGM and Paramount Pictures have released the first trailer for Ben-Hur, a new adaptation of Lew Wallace’s classic novel. Directed by Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter helmer Timur Bekmambetov, the film tells the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his brother Messala (Toby Kebbell).

This first look certainly lacks the subtlety and, at times, quiet focus of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator or William Wyler’s excellent adaptation of the same source material, but it’s nowhere near as ostentatious as the year’s latest desert-set picture, Gods of Egypt. So while I’m fully aware that this iteration of Ben-Hur won’t be counted as a contender come this year’s Oscar talk, it’s a bit less sinful than I expected a modern-day adaptation of religious-themed fiction to be. The action centerpiece of this film, as teased in the trailer, is the classic chariot race, a sequence that looks to be worth the price of admission if Bekmambetov’s previous films are any indication.

Watch the trailer below. The film also stars Morgan Freeman, Rodrigo Santoro, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer, and Sofia Black D’Elia. Ben-Hur opens in theaters on August 12th.

I’m a fan of Bekmambetov, and have been since his breakout hit Night Watch, through Wanted, and even Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, none of which took themselves too seriously. Now, with a film that has the pedigree of Ben-Hur, I’m very curious to see how Bekmambetov handles it. Will he try to out-action Michael Bay with sheer strength of spectacle in the gladiatorial arena? Or will he try to bring some moments of introspection to the title character, who famously witnessed the Crucifixion of Christ which forever changed his life? I can tell you two things for certain: This film won’t be Rated G and it won’t be three-and-a-half hours long. How else it departs from Wyler’s 1959 classic remains to be seen.

Here’s the official synopsis for Ben-Hur:

BEN-HUR is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption. Based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Also starring Morgan Freeman and Rodrigo Santoro.


Image via MGM/Paramount


Image via MGM/Paramount


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