Newsbites: The Jesus movies past and future edition!

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A few quick items about three recent and upcoming movies about Jesus.

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Does the chariot race sequence in Ben-Hur need dialogue?

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There are many problems with Timur Bekmambetov’s remake of Ben-Hur, but one of the more emblematic ones, I think, is the way he insists on adding dialogue to the chariot race. Bekmambetov can’t rely on the thrill of movement alone: instead, he has to pump the soundtrack full of exposition and dull action-movie banter.

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Watch: Jack Huston and Timur Bekmambetov sing Morgan Freeman’s praises in a clip from a Ben-Hur bonus feature

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Ben-Hur was one of the year’s biggest flops, and director Timur Bekmambetov thinks he knows why: he recently told a Russian news agency that the film failed at the box office because audiences prefer stories of revenge to stories about forgiveness.

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Ben-Hur: some quick notes on the Blu-Ray bonus features

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Ben-Hur is out on DVD and Blu-Ray today. My take on the film hasn’t changed much since I wrote my review — if anything, I was even more struck by the casually anachronistic dialogue this time (“Wow,” “Oh my God,” “opinion-makers,” etc.) — but I did want to jot down a few quick notes about the Blu-Ray’s bonus features.

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Watch: The making of the sea-galley sequence in Ben-Hur

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The chariot race isn’t the only big action sequence in Ben-Hur. The story also includes a naval battle that has played a big part in nearly all dramatic versions of the story. And now, to promote the newest film’s Digital HD release, we have a clip from one of the new featurettes that looks at how the sea-galley sequence was put together.

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Watch: The stars of Ben-Hur (now on Digital HD) talk about the dangers of chariot driving — including gassy horses

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Timur Bekmambetov’s remake of Ben-Hur came out on iTunes, Google Play and other digital platforms today. I’m still waiting for the Blu-Ray, so I won’t be able to check out the bonus features until then, but for now, USA Today has a clip from one of the making-of featurettes that focuses on — what else? — the chariot race.

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