This epic story follows Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, "The famous story of Ben-Hur has been done in film multiple times throughout the years, but none has reached this level of excitement and beautiful special effects. And none has ever been this action packed and intense." Ryan R. adds, "Although it is two hours long, it does not drag. Morgan Freeman gives a very regal performance as Ilderim. His voice makes you want to pay attention when he narrates the story. I love this character because he helps Judah and they make a fantastic team!" See their full reviews below.
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14
The famous story of Ben-Hur has been done in film multiple times throughout the years, but none has reached this level of excitement and beautiful special effects. And none has ever been this action packed and intense.
Ben-Hur will certainly appeal to action genre fans, but it has so much more to offer. Along with multiple dangerous adventures comes strong love story, drama and history, which keeps you excited but surprised by events that unfold in front of your eyes.
The film starts when Prince Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) is accused of attempting to assassinate a Roman Leader. His adopted brother convinces him and his family about the worst punishments available. His family meets a mysterious fate that leaves him guessing about them for years. Judah is sentenced to life as a galley slave (a person that rows Roman ships). He barely survives this terrible punishment for six years before escaping. Back on land, he trains to take revenge on his brother in a place with no law - the dangerous, yet exciting sport of chariot racing!
Although the plot seems confusing, it actually is easy to follow. Towards the beginning it may be a bit confusing, but by ten minutes into the film pieces snap into place. This film not only packs a lot of action, but it is also very historical and truly makes it look as if we are watching these scenes take place in ancient Rome and Jerusalem from the boats, to warfare, to their attire. Throughout the film, I felt transported back 2000 years to the large Roman Empire. Most of the special effects portray the chariot racing and the outcome is nothing short of spectacular, detailed and very realistic. It is exciting and intense, but also easy to follow. The acting in this film exceeded my expectations with many known actors such as Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman (Ilderim), but the entire cast delivers spectacular performances and really make their characters come to life and shine, as well as make the viewer think they actually are seeing life 2000 years ago.
My favorite scene is the galley slave scenes. In a way, these are also my least favorite scenes because it shows how terrible Romans treated these slaves. In one scene, you see Judah changing over the six years from a handsome and healthy prince to a depressed, skinny and beaten slave. Another factor of these scenes that impressed me were the visual effects. Judah escapes when the ship sinks in a battle. The scene is very dramatic, scary and intense. It is full of action and everything from soundtrack to acting makes it a heart-thumping moment.
Ben-Hur is intense with many adult references, but the mature aspect that concerns me most is the gore. Since this takes place in Ancient Rome, there are many violent acts that are unsuitable for young children. I recommend it for ages 14 to 18 and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. The acting, special effects and soundtrack are all fantastic but the story is slightly confusing at the beginning which makes it a bit annoying for the viewer.
By Ryan R., KIDS First! Film Critic, age 12
I did not exactly love the 2016 remake of the 1959 movie Ben-Hur, but I didn't hate it either. This film takes place around 26 A.D. when Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) appears as the wealthy Jerusalem prince who is falsely accused of treason and is stripped of everything that he has and taken away. Judah's adopted brother, Messala Severus (Toby Kebbell) betrays him and allows the Romans to make Judah a galley slave for five years. Judah escapes, returns home and seeks revenge. The question is: will Judah get his revenge?
Although it is two hours long, it does not drag. Morgan Freeman gives a very regal performance as Ilderim. His voice makes you want to pay attention when he narrates the story. I love this character because he helps Judah and they make a fantastic team! I think Jack Huston should have been cast as Jesus because his demeanor is very soft and peaceful. He doesn't project the strong, angry character that he should have as Judah Ben-Hur. Rodrigo Santoro, who plays the role of Jesus should have played Judah Ben-Hur.
Don't get me wrong, I love how Rodrigo Santoro portrays Jesus. His performance is stellar. But the way he looks and carries himself would have made Rodrigo a more believable Judah. Toby Kebbell's Messala is the one casting that they got right. He acts and looks mean enough to make you to dislike him.
The setting looks epic and visually appealing. The battle scene with the ships in the water is pretty intense but entertaining. However, some scenes are boring and a few scenes didn't need to be there. The chariot race is a bit sloppy and roughly edited.
I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids ages 11 to 18. Younger kids might not understand what is going on and may be frightened by a few intense and grotesque scenes. There is also some bloody and gory violence. I also recommend this to adults who like action, adventure, remakes and Biblical films. This film opens Friday, August 19 so, put it on your radar screen.