Ben-Hur-themed news items are still trickling in as the film rolls out overseas.
In theory, there is no reason why anyone shouldn’t make a new version of Ben-Hur. Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel has been dramatized several times already, and the most famous film of them all — the 1959 adaptation with Charlton Heston — deviated from the book in ways that arguably made it a less-than-definitive adaptation of the source material. (Among other things, the Heston film is less overt about its Christianity than the silent 1925 version.) So I was prepared to give the new movie a chance.
At last, one day before it comes to the multiplex, the first reviews of Ben-Hur are here — and for the most part, they’re not that positive. Here’s a quick sampling.