While Ben-Hur has been adapted to the screen several times, the William Wyler version is and will always be the classic most highly regarded. One wonders why anyone would feel the need to "remake" a film if not intending to either expand on it or at least try to improve on some aspect of it. But, with the exception of "Wanted," Director Timur Bekmambetov has only made crap.
This 2016 "remake" feels like cliff-notes of the 1959 version, with the best parts left out. Judah Ben-Hur and his adopted brother Messala, are pitted against one another early on, as Judah helps hide a friend after a failed assassination attempt on Pontus Pilate and Messala has joined the Roman army. Judah is made a slave and when a ship he's imprisoned on is sunk, he's washed ashore only to be rescued by Ilderim(Morgan Freeman), whom he learns the art of chariot racing from. (This is not a well conceived revision!) Judah has a chance to win his freedom if he wins a chariot race against....wait for it....yep, Messala! Ugh! One would think with so much of the film's budget going to CGI that the chariot race(so unforgettable in the '59 version)would stand out here, but it doesn't. It's hard to stay awake during any of the film and only truck drivers on Red Bull may make it through the film in its entirety! It's that boring! Stay away!
Paramount has provided the correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio for this MPEG-4 AVC encoded 1080p blu-ray. This transfer is as great at the actual film is bad! Detail is flawless! The costume design is impressive and all the more so, when even the stitching is presented with such sharp focus as is offered here! Close-up or medium shot, everything has great depth. Colors are rich but natural and contrast is also impeccable. A stunning transfer!
Paramount has provided a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix. From opening credits and throughout, this is a heck of an immersive mix! Aggressive with attention to subtlety, this mix provides great creative detail whether it's a naval battle, horses clamoring or swords clashing! Bass is certain to push sub-woofers to the limit and introduce the neighbors if not kept in check. Music, dialogue and effects are all balanced. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.
A GREAT MIX!
Paramount has included a dvd and Digital code along with the blu-ray.
Several featurettes(1080p)are well worth checking out and deleted scenes running around 10 minutes are included.