Jacksonville, Fla. – Ben Hur (PG-13)
As the Roman Empire expands by death and force, Judah Ben Hur (Jack Huston) and Messala (Toby Kebbell) his adopted brother get caught in the conflict forcing them to become enemies. This film begins with a slow pace in Jerusalem where Judah has a peaceful home for his family. As the Romans conquer more land the Zealots begin to fight back. Judah attempts to keep peace while the Romans take over, but Messala decides to join the Roman army to make a name for himself. The story shifts from brotherly love to sibling rivalry when a guest in Judah's home attacks the Romans. Judah is considered a traitor and forced into slavery. Judah has to find a way to clear his name and save his family. He finds help in Sheik Ilderim (Morgan Freeman) and transforms into a courageous character determined to get his life back.
The strength of this film is the relationship between Judah and Sheik while everyone else was underwhelming.
Ben Hur loses its strength by missing critical details in costuming and presentation that don't match the era. This film makes the dangerous move of remaking a film that made its mark in film history with Charlton Heston as the leading man over 50 years ago. It does not meet or exceed those expectations.