If the Chuck Heston interpretation is comparable to a Classics Illustrated comic book, MGM’s new digital facelift should never have left Turner Network Television. This Ben hurt! Running 90 minutes shorter than its predecessor — the Jack Hawkins subplot didn’t make the cut — the film feels twice as long. Set in 26 BT (Before Tripod), director Timur Bekmambetov overcondenses the familiar parables, his antsy coverage a case study in state-of-the-art bobbling. Judah (Jack Huston) referring to Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro) as a “progressive” earned a snicker as did a CG horse brought to its knees during the smeary mimeograph of the chariot race. Poor Morgan Freeman, reduced to acting the part of willing participant in this theft of your time. The jarringly awkward cutaways to MF cheering Judah’s jalopy to victory — they couldn’t have taken more than 15 minutes to shoot — are worth a lifetime of laughs.
Length: 2 hours, 4 minutes