Movies

Movie Date: Ben-Hur (PG13)

This sub-par bust should rightly be left in the dust

STARRING: Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Morgan Freeman, Rodrigo Santoro

DIRECTOR: Timur Bekmambetov

THE SKINNY: Based on Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben- Hur: A Tale Of The Christ, the story follows Judah Ben- Hur (Huston), a Jewish prince condemned to slavery by his adoptive Roman brother Messala (Kebbell). Judah manages to escape the galley after a few years and becomes a chariot racer to exact revenge on Messala.


MARS by JASON JOHNSON

I read something really smart on the Internet.

Instead of remaking great movies, why doesn't Hollywood reboot the bad ones?

The idea is that a classic such as the 1959 version of Ben-Hur can't be improved upon, so why bother?

Go upgrade the flicks that need it, like Battlefield Earth or Gigli.

Anyway, this new version of Ben Hur isn't so much a disaster as just a nothing. It's one of those movies that vanishes from your mind as you watch it.

The main problem is its looks. It's visually bland, from the cast to the sets to the visual effects.

The 1959 Ben-Hur had immense interiors, endless exteriors and hordes of extras. It's colourful and filled with little details that delight the eye.

This new Ben-Hur feels claustrophobic in comparison. The shots are too tight. There are not enough people.

The colour palette is limited to the now-ubiquitous brown and blue.

Finally, there is just way too much bad CGI. You never get the idea anything real is actually happening.

It's as if their mission was to take a timeless classic and see how boring they could make it, like it was all a perverse experiment.

Whatever the case, my work here is done.

As I write this final sentence, Ben-Hur shall pass from my consciousness, never to return again.

Ratings: 2/5 stars


VENUS by JOANNE SOH

How can one watch this and not compare it to the famous 1959 version starring Charlton Heston?

Even with the limited technology then, it was a classic in many ways.

It was epic and that's what a sword-and-sandals flick should be.

This US$100 million (S$135m) production has already been labelled as 2016's blockbuster bomb.

That's sad, as Bekmambetov's retelling does have some moments of grandeur, such as the naval battle involving war galleys.

The climactic chariot scenes are arresting though not spectacular.

For me, the main problem lies with Huston.

As talented an actor as he may be - he does the dramatic moments well - there is no fire in his eyes. You don't feel his thirst for revenge or hatred, which is one of the main themes.

Also, with that wispy hair and lanky body, he comes across as soft for a role that needs someone macho.

Even if you don't compare him to alpha male Heston, you need that manly quality to handle such a genre, like Russell Crowe did with Gladiator or Henry Cavill in Immortals.

Huston's gentle good looks are his downfall here.

So by the time you get to the final chariot moments, it is too late to make any connection, as much as you want to.

Ratings: 2/5 stars


THE CONSENSUS: This sub-par bust should rightly be left in the dust

Movie Review: Time Raiders (PG13)

Despite starring two of China's hottest hunks and boasting a ridiculous amount of special effects, Time Raiders remains a confused, ludicrous mess.

Wu Xie (Lu Han) is an antique shop owner who hails from a family of tomb raiders.

He chances upon a lost treasure with a 3,000-year-old secret about Emperor Zhoumu's obsessive quest for immortality.

Wu sets off for the caves with a bunch of guys, including mysterious martial arts expert Zhang Qiling (Jing Boran), to find out more.

As the film progresses, it is disappointing that there is no real character development. Director Daniel Lee seems more interested in showing off dazzling CGI, be it an army of creepy crawlies or ghoulish creatures.

Nothing can save a lousy storyline.

Ratings: 2/5 

 

Movie Poster: Imperium

IMPERIUM

What It Looks Like:

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is a racist scumbag in this dark reboot, Harry Potter And the Chamber Of Skinheads. Using his magic, Harry fights to deport foreigners, muggles, elves, centaurs, mermaids and Weasleys from England.

What It's Really About:

Radcliffe is an FBI agent who infiltrates a white supremacist organisation.

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