Ben-Hur and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
On the list of unnecessary remakes that no one was asking for ever, I can’t imagine one being worse than this except maybe Citizen Kane or ANOTHER remake of The Jazz Singer. Hell, I haven’t even SEEN the original Ben-Hur (I know. Shut up!), and even I can tell this is completely unnecessary! Oh well. Maybe this will be a faithful adaptation that understands what made the original so great in the first place and gives its own modern interpretation of those amazing qualities? Yeah… I doubt it too, but you never know! Is this a new classic that can stand alongside the original film, or is this a half assed effort that’s hoping to make big bucks on the name alone? Let’s find out!!
Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) is living his life of luxury as the rich prince of Jerusalem which by this point was embroiled in strife due to the Romans continuing to push into their lands and occupying them. It’s not of much concern to him though because he’s the one percent, and nothing bad ever happens to them! Well when his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell) goes off to join the Roman army and comes back years later as one of the lead occupies, things get a bit strained and Judah can’t keep living under a rock. When some shit goes down that’s totally not his fault, his brother ends up enslaving him and sending him to be a rower in a warship until he keels over and dies; leaving the rest of his family to presumably die for whatever trumped up charges the Romans can think of. Judah eventually escapes after five years however and SOMEHOW washes back up onto Jerusalem (boy was THAT convenient!) and meets some dude who trains chariot racers (Morgan Freeman) who agrees to help him get revenge on his brother and Rome. Oh and Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro) is in the background somewhere. Will Judah be able to avenge those who were so viciously taken away from him? What will he find after his five year absence from his homeland? Wait a minute… is this the story of Biblical Batman!?
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate and Screen Gems
Directed by Burr Steers
As much as camp and shtick have grown in popularity in the last decade (coinciding with the rise of the internet as a daily tool for the masses), it’s still not something that’s easily recreated and more often than not happened by accident. That’s why films like this one annoy me right off the bat. You can spend a million dollars trying to recreate a Big Mac perfectly, but that time would have been better spent making something good. The flashy visuals, confident swagger, and knowing winks to the audience tend to makers of a terrible film covering up its faults than a genuine fun throwback to exploitation films of yore. Still, that’s just the vibe I’m getting from the trailers and trailers have a tendency to be misleading; just look at the ones for Hail Caesar. Can this movie succeed at being fun trash, or will it be the cinematic equivalent of dumpster diving? Let’s find out!!
The movie essentially follows the story of Pride and Prejudice, in that it follows Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) on her journey about navigating the British upper class, the relationship she eventually forges with Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), and the choices her sisters make that affect her family. It starts with her sister Jane (Bella Heathcote) and Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth) falling in love during a party at the Bingley estate where Elizabeth first meets Mr. Darcy and immediately finds him to be an unpleasant and haughty ass. Over a series of weeks and months, things only become more strained as they run into each other quite often due to Mr. Darcy’s friendship with Mr. Bingley as he and Jane continue their courtship. Oh, and this all takes place after the zombie apocalypse where all of Britain (though I have no idea if this has spread to the rest of the world) is under threat from the undead masses. Their numbers grow so large that they basically make that city from Attack on Titan, i.e. they big a giant wall to keep everything else out. Despite the protection afforded to them by their isolation, the threat of the outside world constantly looms and the entire Bennet family has been trained in some form of martial arts, as has Mr. Darcy and I believe Mr. Bingley. I think the idea is that EVERYONE in the upper class knows how to fight, but we never really see that many people clash with the zombies and instead just run away. None of this though seems to have much impact on the story at hand which is about Elizabeth constantly fighting against the wishes of her mother to settle down with whatever lout with have her, including her own cousin Mr. Collins (Matt Smith) and her steadfast refusal to agree to marriage for anything less than love. Will she and Mr. Darcy eventually find out that they’re perfect for each other… for some reason? Will they be able to stop the zombies from getting any closer to wiping out all of Britain? Couldn’t we have just ended this shtick with the one about Lincoln?