Musings on the first trailer of the new Ben-Hur (2016)

BenHur2016poster

Most of you who’ve read my blog for a while knows I’m a huge fan of the 1959 Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. I’ve listed it as one of the films that have defined me and one of my three favorite Oscar-winning films of all time. That epic masterpiece that won the most awards in its time (11 wins out of 12 noms) was actually a remake of the 1925 silent film. I always think that like Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, etc., Ben-Hur is one of those classics that ought not get remade. Alas, nothing is sacred anymore these days so we shouldn’t be surprised that nearly 60 years later, we get yet another cinematic adaptation based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

Behold the trailer…

 

BEN-HUR is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army.  Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery.  After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Initial impressions

The way the trailer’s cut now didn’t exactly scream epic in terms of compelling narrative and emotional gratification. Given the pedigree of the director, whose Hollywood films so far seem to be more effects-driven than anything else, this trailer certainly showcase that. Yes so at the time, the 1959 Ben-Hur was marketed as an epic that offered a spectacle like no other, and that chariot race scene alone is a reason to see it on the biggest screen possible. Even as I saw it decades later, when special effects had improved significantly, that chariot scene still left me breathless and it remained one of the most incredible scene to pull off even by today’s standard. But yet, the film was far more than just the spectacle and what stays with me more is the story, it’s the protagonist’s journey and transformation (more of that later). I suppose with 3.5 hours running time, the 1959 version could go into more depth with the story and there are richer, more complex narrative that involve more than just Ben-Hur vs Messala.

So far my impression is meh, in fact someone remarked on Twitter that this is ‘Fast and Furious: Jerusalem Drift‘ and I don’t blame them for thinking that. I mean the blaring music is so generic and has no majestic vibe at all, and way too much screaming and laden with banal dialog. But y’know what, instead of just brushing it off, I thought I’d offer some of my thoughts about some of the elements of the movie.

The cast

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Heston was so 50-years ago, we now have Huston as the new Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur. Ok I have to admit I was inspired by this great opening line from EW.com. Jack Huston sure has quite a Hollywood pedigree – grandson of acclaimed filmmaker John Huston and nephew of Anjelica Huston, but whether or not he could step into Charlton Heston’s shoes, er sandals remains to be seen. Now, though I think Heston was great in the role that won him an Oscar for Best Actor, he’s not exactly the most expressive actor. What Heston did have in abundance is screen presence, and I’m curious to see how Huston fares in that regard in his first leading role in a big-budget film. Huston is not a household name yet but I’ve seen him in three films so far, American Hustle, Night Train to Lisbon, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which showed he’s a pretty versatile actor. He certainly looked more Jewish-looking, for a lack of a better word, with dark hair and dark eyes, than Heston was, though one could argue blond, blue-eyed Jews do exist.

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Morgan Freeman is the most recognizable face here as Sheik Ilderim and he naturally adds gravitas to the production. I do have a soft spot for British actor Hugh Griffith in the 1959 version though, as he didn’t take himself so seriously. He’s more of an ally than a mentor too, so it seems they’re more of equal footing in their relationship. Plus Freeman’s dreadlocks is distracting, it’s like something out of Battlefield Earth, did they just have their discarded wig or something?? It’ll be hard not to burst out laughing every time he’s on screen now, come on man, you’re supposed to add dignity not comic relief!

BenHur_TobyKebell

Toby Kebbell seems type cast as a villain now. He’s just played Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Doctor Doom in the um, doomed Fantastic Four movie, and now Messala. Again, I LOVE Stephen Boyd who had a great chemistry with Heston as both friend and foe. I can’t say I’m feelin’ it with these two, but then again they’ve got mundane dialog like ‘Are we having fun now brother?‘ which seems to be inspired by another sword ‘n sandal epic Gladiator‘s famous line ‘Are you not entertained?‘ but folks, it’s all in the delivery and Kebbell ain’t no Russell Crowe. That said, I also think he’s a good actor from some movies I’ve seen him in, most notably Rocknrolla, War Horse and Control.

The director

So I think the cast might turn out to be ok, but what worries me most is the director, Russian filmmaker w/ the unpronounceable name, Timur Bekmambetov. Now, I’ve seen two of his previous movies, Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I’ve enjoyed both in varying degrees, but he’s not exactly the name who’d be in my wish list if I were asked who I’d want to direct an epic sword & sandals masterpiece. For one thing, his films seems to be very CGI-laden, and from this trailer it looks pretty effects-heavy. Heh, I was hoping what Jack said at the IGN comic-con interview (promoting PPZ movie) were true, as he said there’ll be more practical effects and he had spent four months ‘doing everything for real’ which sounds really promising.

The core theme of the story

Now there’s the treatment of the Christ story, which is pivotal in the book, I mean the tagline IS ‘a tale of the Christ’ after all. Apparently Rodrigo Santoro is playing Jesus Christ here, as there’s a snippet of the crucifixion scene. I read that Jesus is given a bigger character arc this time around, and whilst that is a wonderful thing in my book it also worries me a little. What I love about the William Wyler version is the subtle-yet-powerful depiction of Christ whose face was never shown on film. The impact of his being was conveyed through the characters who encounter him in the film, i.e. the Roman soldier who wanted to reprimand him for giving water to Judah.

BenHur1959_Jesus_RomanSoldier

It’s mysterious and mystical, and the faceless character had such gravitas that it’s unforgettable, especially the moment he gave Ben-Hur water when he’s chained as a slave. That scene is one of my all time favorite cinematic scenes that I could watch over and over. What the 1959 version did beautifully was that it showed how Judah’s and Jesus’ lives intersect, and the parallel of how the two men were charged and punished for a crime they didn’t commit. But in the end it was more of a story of redemption than a tale of vengeance, a theme that perhaps isn’t as cool or even marketable, but for me it leaves a much more lasting impression.

Interestingly, Bekmambetov actually said in an interview (per IMDb trivia) that he thought the 1959 version was more about revenge. Huh? Did he not stay until the end of the film?? Judah’s last line was not at all subtle about his own redemption.

Judah Ben-Hur: Almost at the moment He died, I heard Him say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Esther: Even then.

Judah Ben-Hur: Even then. And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.

He went on to say that wanted to focus more on the forgiveness aspect of the story, he said ‘…humanity has to learn how to love and forgive.’ Well, I sure hope what he aspired to do w/ the story will actually transpire in the final film, as I’m not seeing that in this trailer. At the very least I’m hoping that the Jesus’ story be handled respectfully and that the themes of love and compassion in Lew Wallace’s novel isn’t love amidst the CGI-fest spectacle.

One last thing, I find it odd to see Judah falling from his chariot and held on to his horses, how’s he going to get back up to the chariot and win the race?? I guess we’ll find out when the movie is out on August 12, 2016.


Well, that’s my thoughts. Now, what do YOU think about the first Ben-Hur trailer?

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Thursday Movie Picks #32: Oscar-Winning Movies

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! I’ve been seeing posts on the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog, but I haven’t been able to participate. Well until now that is.

The rules are simple simple:
Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it, one of each. Today’s topic is…

OscarWinningMovies

The Oscar-winning movies can include winners of Best Picture, Best Animated Film and Best Foreign Film, but I ended up sticking with the main Best Picture winners. As I was thinking of doing a Top 10 list on this topic, you could say that these films would make my Top 5.

So, here are my picks of three films that deserve all the accolades they’ve received and I don’t hesitate calling each of them a masterpiece.

Casablanca (1942)

ThursdayPicks_Casablanca

Oscar Facts: Won 3 Oscars out of 6 nominations

I had the good fortune of finally seeing Casablanca for the first time two years ago (as I documented here), as part of TCM Theatrical re-release. Robert Osborne, the longtime TCM host, introduced the film and gave some background, which is cool. Unfortunately, he also spoiled the plot – I think he just assumed everyone had seen the film. But even with that snafu, I was so engrossed in the story right from the start. It’s got everything you could want in a movie – intrigue, romance, humor, great music, exotic setting, etc. But most importantly, at the heart of it is the engaging and unforgettable love story, beautifully-realized by Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman. There’s really so much to appreciate in this film that I can’t possibly write in a paragraph or two.

The world will always welcome lovers ♬ As time goes by ♪

 The world will always welcome beautiful stories, too and that’s why Casablanca will always stand the test of time.

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1959)

Oscar Facts: Won 11 Oscars out of 12 nominations

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Here’s another Hollywood epic that shall stand the test of time. This is one of the first American films I saw as a young girl with my late mother and it made a huge impression to me then. I was in awe of the visual grandeur and all the epic action scenes, especially the chariot race. I have re-watched it countless times since and even with the technological advancement of movie-making, few scenes from today’s movies could match the intensity and the panoramic spectacle of the chariot scene, it’s 40-min of pure adrenaline rush that I wish I could witness on the big screen one day.

But visuals alone doesn’t make a movie and the personal redemptive story of Judah Ben-Hur is just as riveting. I love that it tells the story of Christ through the eyes of the protagonist and how an encounter with Him ultimately transforms his life in a profound way. It’s truly as epic as a film could get, a feast for the eyes as well as for the soul. Though it’s 3.5-hours long, it’s so well-worth your time and I know it’s one that I appreciate more and more every time I watch it. Both Charlton Heston in the title role and Stephen Boyd as friend-turned-foe Messala are superb, with a supporting cast

But this is truly William Wyler‘s towering achievement. He’s considered by his peers as a master craftsman of cinema, and rightly so. I just read on IMDb that Wyler was an assistant director on the 1925 version of Ben-Hur, who knew he’d go on to surpass that film in so many ways three decades later.

Gladiator (2000)

Oscar Facts: Won 5 Oscars out of 12 nominations

ThursdayPicks_Gladiator

I have dedicated a post for Ridley Scott’s magnum opus a few years ago and even today he still can’t reclaim the glory of this Roman epic. I’m going to self-plagiarize myself here as I still carry a torch for this film and each repeat viewing reminds me just spectacular it is. Gladiator is a visceral spectacle that offers a thrilling blend of intellect and physical strength.  Massively entertaining and memorable, it lived up to the promise of Maximus himself: “I will give them something they have never seen before.“ Oh yes, we’re definitely entertained.

I LOVE that both the hero and the villain are equally-matched in terms of how intensely they’re portrayed on screen. Both Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix gave tremendous performances, culminating to a thrilling and emotional finale worth cheering for. Like the two films I mentioned above, this film ticks all the right boxes to be considered a classic. Visually and emotionally satisfying, it also boasts one of the greatest soundtracks ever by Hans Zimmer. It’s the soundtrack that’s been copied many times over but never surpassed.

BONUS PICK:

Gone with the Wind (1939)

GWTW_OakTreeI just had to include this film as it’s also one of my earliest intro to Hollywood films and even eight decades later, this film is still being talked about. I’d call it a monumental classic, showing the best and absolute worst of American history during the civil war era. Some people didn’t care for the melodrama and it seems overindulgent at times thanks to producer David O. Selznick‘s constant meddling, but few films are as beautifully-shot and wonderfully-acted as this one. There are just too many iconic scenes and dialog from this film, some of them I have highlighted here on its 75th anniversary. Whether you’d end up liking it or not, this is one of those cinematic gems every film fan should be compelled to check out.


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen these films?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + Question of the Week on Tom Hiddleston as Ben Hur

Happy Friday everybody! I’m going to hit two birds with one stone again today in combining two post *series* in one.

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Ok, so let’s start with some of my favorite posts from the past week:

  • RIP_RobinWilliamsIt’s been quite a very sad week for film fans… we lost two beloved actors within days of each other. I’m still reeling from Robin Williams‘ sudden passing, which is very tragic indeed. It’s nice to see people’s outpouring of tributes to the comic genius whose lives have been touched by a certain role he did throughout his illustrious career:
    Alex did an In Character post, Andrew and Steven paid tribute listing their favorite roles, Kristin highlights a wonderful scene from his Oscar-winning role Good Will Hunting, and Mark took a break from blogging hiatus to dedicate a Trivia Tribute filled with interesting tidbits. Lastly, Dan posted Top 10 Films of the late actor, whilst Nostra made a Many Faces Of post which illustrates his amazing versatility.
  • RIPLaurenBacallThis week we also lost a beloved classic actress Lauren Bacall. I wish I had seen more of her work, so far I have only seen her in Designing Woman. Well, Keith wrote a lovely tribute filled with beautiful photos and lots of recommendations on her work.
  • On a more cheerful note, Lady Sati shone a spotlight on rising star Chris Pratt, whilst Terrence posted a bunch of new trailers to get excited about some upcoming releases.
  • Michael highlighted a favorite scene from one of my favorite sci-fi movies The Abyss, Mark reviewed a neo noir crime drama Cold in July, whilst Tom ventured out of his comfort zone by watching the period drama Belle, bravo Tom! 😀
  • Tyson‘s been back blogging again and posted some of the Desert Island Classic posts. This time it’s Abbi‘s turn to pick which movies she’d take when she’s stranded.
  • Josh posted his 1971 CinSpec Awards, apparently a great year for movies and I like how The French Connection got plenty of mentions. Meanwhile, Rodney reviewed Transcendence which I still hasn’t got time to check out, and Eric reviewed Sideways, the 2004 dark comedy by Alexander Payne as part of his annual 50 Movie Project.
  • Last but not least, my pal Raul wrote a piece on the Film Inquiry site about Steve McQueen’s Trifecta. Of course we’re talking about the British director, not the classic actor 😀

Now for Question of the Week!

A whole bunch of tweets and casting news have been circulating lately that Tom Hiddleston is wanted for the leading role in the upcoming Ben-Hur adaptation. Now, as a fan of the 1959 film with Charlton Heston, which is actually a remake of a silent 1925 film, I wasn’t immediately keen on this project. Now, I LOVE Biblical epics but it seems that the trend in Hollywood is to forgo the source material and only use the character/story as a base to launch something else entirely *cough* Noah *cough.* You can read my thoughts about Biblical screen adaptations here.

But you know what, the casting of Hiddleston did pique my interest. It’s not final yet but I really hope he’d do it. I think the classically-trained actor would be wonderful in the role. We all know he’s got screen charisma and surely he could play a hero as well as he did a villain.

Hiddles as Coriolanus at Donmar Warehouse, London
Hiddles as Coriolanus at Donmar Warehouse, London

I’m slightly more hopeful about this project as according to Collider, this film will heavily incorporate the story of Jesus Christ from the book (Lew Wallace’s novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ), which runs parallel to the actions of Judah Ben-Hur throughout the film. What I LOVE about the 1959 film is the spirituality aspect, and the portrayal of Christ is subtle but powerful. In fact, it’s far more affecting than the entire film of Son of God, which brings me to the interesting group of behind-the-scene talents.

We’ve got Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) set as director, with Keith Clarke (The Way Back) and John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) penning the script, AND Mark Burnett & Roma Downey, the pair behind The Bible miniseries & Son of God as producers. Heh I really don’t know what to make of this group. Bekmambetov isn’t the first name on my wish list for a project such as this, and Burnett & Downey’s Son Of God, despite their best intentions, lack a sense of mystique and grandeur that Christ’ story so deserved. So I guess I’m cautiously optimistic with this one. I’d think it’s still tough to top William Wyler Roman epic, even that chariot scene alone with incredible set pieces, thousands of extras and no CGI whatsoever was still one of the most amazing scenes ever filmed.

In any case, if Hiddles accepts this role, it’s already a plus on the casting front. Hopefully we’ll know in a few weeks if he says yay or nay to this. The film’s been scheduled for release on February 26th 2016.


So my question to you is:

What do you think of Tom Hiddleston as Ben-Hur? Thoughts on this project in general?

Weekend Viewing Roundup & the Gregory Peck Marathon Update

Hello folks, hope your weekend’s been great now that Monday is just around the corner. I’ve been enjoying a pretty relaxing three-day weekend and watched quite a bit of movies. The first snowfall finally arrived so I pretty much spent all day indoors yesterday and pretty much continued my Gregory Peck marathon, ehm.

So far I’ve seen four five more of his films after Spellbound & Duel in the Sun:

  • David & Bathsheba, which chronicles the most famous Biblical adulterous affair. Peck perfectly portrays the charismatic leader and passionate lover, and the more desolate scenes of David pleading for God’s mercy is one of my favorite scenes.
  • Gentleman’s Agreement, a moral drama about antisemitism
  • The Great Sinner, about a novelist who gets caught in a gambling addiction as he’s doing a research on it
  • Keys to the Kingdom, Peck’s 2nd film where he nabbed his first Oscar nomination. He played a young priest sent to China to establish a Catholic parish among the non-Christian Chinese.
  • Another classic Western The Big Country starring another favorite classic actor, Charlton Heston
Clockwise from top left: David & Bathsheba, Gentleman’s Agreement, The Keys to the Kingdom, The Great Sinner, The Big Country

I’ve also started watching Designing Woman, a rom-com w/ Lauren Bacall. It’s cute to see Peck in a comedy and so far it’s quite enjoyable. I can’t help thinking though that his role seems to be tailor-made for Cary Grant.

The Big Country is directed by Roman Holiday and Ben-Hur director William Wyler, which has now become Wyler’s third favorite feature of mine. Peck played a New Englander who arrives in the Old West to marry his fiancée and becomes embroiled in a feud between two families over a valuable patch of land. I never thought I’d be enjoying Westerns so much, but I guess with the right cast anything is possible 🙂 Peck is good as always as the quiet hero, and it’s fun to see Charlton Heston being a rogue and lusty cowboy after his major role as Moses in The Ten Commandments. It’s only a year later that he worked with Wyler again in the epic Ben-Hur.

My admiration for Mr. Peck continues to grow with each film I watch. I’m not going gush about him all over again, as I’m afraid this one post won’t be able to contain it, ahah. I just want to share with you this awesome find I discovered over the weekend. It’s sort of a mini-documentary of sort, here’s the full description:

One of Hollywood’s most enduring and popular stars draws on his memories to tell the amusing and touching story of how it was when the studios ruled supreme, and a shy and inarticulate boy from a broken family could rise to superstardom to become one of the most handsome, attractive and respected of movie leading men.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Well, I managed to squeeze in Tree of Life in between my GP marathon 🙂 I have mixed feelings about it, more on that tomorrow.


So what did you see this weekend? And if you want to indulge yours truly here, what’s your favorite Gregory Peck movie that you’ve seen?

Five for the Fifth – 5 Questions for The 5th of October

Happy Fifth of October, everyone!

I’m always excited about the fifth of the month as I get to post this monthly feature where I get to post five random news item/observation/trailer, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

So here we go …

  • It’s October which means it’s horror movie month for a lot of people. Well, as most of you already know, horror isn’t my cup of tea so FlixChatter will remain horror-free all month long. With that said, there are a couple of horror movies that I do appreciate and perhaps don’t even mind watching again, such as 28 Days Later and The Sixth Sense (weird that both have numbers in them. Now tell me, what’s the best and/or scariest horror flick you’ve ever seen?
  • I haven’t blogged about any superhero stuff in a while so today’s as good a time as any. Check out this photo of Russell Crowe as Jor-El (that’s Superman’s dad in case you didn’t know) on the set of Man of Steel in Vancouver.
    ,,,


    It’s ‘Lord of the rings meets Merlin meets Game of thrones meets Robin hood,’ says one commenter on Superherohype. Don’t forget Thor! 😀 I actually think it looks pretty cool, it’s certainly more rugged and imaginative than the white neon-y thing that Marlon Brando wore in the first Superman. This one makes Jor-El look like a Medieval warrior than a Kryptonian scientist though. What do you think folks? Are you liking the costume and/or casting of Man of Steel so far?
    ….
  • The adrenaline-junkie that is Tom Cruise is seen hanging down from a ridiculously high skyscraper in this IMAX poster on the zillionth Mission Impossible movie.
    ….

    sgsg
    It’s a pretty cool-looking poster IMO, though it kinda makes me dizzy as I have just a touch of vertigo. I know my friend and FC guest-blogger Ted looooves watching movies at IMAX theaters, but I personally get a headache watching action-packed scenes on those giant, surround screen. My question to you is two-fold… do you like watching movies on those IMAX giant screen? If so, what’s the latest film you saw there?
  • This past weekend, two of the top three box office winners were animal-themed movies: Dolphin Tale and Lion King 3D. Seems like there is no shortage in this sub-genre as later this month, the Shrek character spin-off Puss in the Boots will hit theaters. If I were to name my three favorite animal-themed flicks, I’d probably go with The Lion King, Finding Nemo and if we’re counting documentaries, March of the Penguins. What’s your favorite animal-themed movie?
  • Yesterday was supposed to be Charlton Heston’s 88th birthday. The iconic Hollywood legend has done 129 projects in his lifetime, including TV, voice-over work, etc. since his first ever film in 1941. He often plays larger-than-life characters such as Moses in The Ten Commandments and a Jewish prince in Ben-Hur. I’m hoping to get the BD box set of the latter that’s just been released. The reviews have been as stellar as the masterpiece itself. Man that chariot scene’s got to look spectacular on Blu-ray!

    So what’s your favorite Charlton Heston role?

Well, that’s it for this month’s Five for the Fifth. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all!

Hollywood’s love affair with ‘swords & sandals’ flix

Clash of the Titans Remake – thrusting into theaters March 2010

Perseus ready for battle!
Perseus ready for battle!

I came across a pic of Gladiator-like Perseus wielding his sword the other day, and it piqued my interest. My hubby Ivan’s a big fan of the original movie with Harry Hamlin, which basically tells the classic Greek mythology of the hero Perseus who defeat Medusa to save Andromeda. Surely you’ve seen all kinds of statues of a naked guy holding the severed head of serpent-haired Medusa. Well, that naked dude is Perseus.

The role now belongs to Aussie actor Sam Worthington (most recently stole scenes from Chris Bale as Marcus in Terminator Salvation). Gone is the Hugh Grant-like flop, replaced by a shaved head a’la Gladiator‘s Maximus. Even the costume & shield look curiously similar – I’m guessing MPAA would slap them with  NC-17 rating if the flix were to follow the statue’s costume or lack there-of. In any case, Worthington could be the next Tinseltown’s ‘It Boy’ if he played his cards right, having also been cast in Jim Cameron’s Avatar (his biggest project a decade after Titanic). From what I’ve seen and read so far, he seems to have the same gravitas and intensity as his fellow Aussie Russell Crowe (minus his temperament I hope) and the tall, brawny physique of Gerard Butler’s Leonidas in 300.

I’m a big fan of historical romans/greek tales, but Hollywood’s ripe with as many misses as there hits. Alexander, The Last Legion, and In the Name of a King are all critical duds and box office flops. But apparently they’re not giving up this genre just yet. Jake Gyllenhaal’s Prince of Persia (based on the popular video game) is promised to be a big blockbuster much like Clash of the Titans, both due out in 2010.

Not a big fan of Gyllenhaal myself, I’d put my money on the latter. Consist mostly of European talents: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Danny Houston, Mads Mikkelsen to name a few, it’ll focus more on Perseus personal life more than the original. Not a bad cast indeed! (Geek sidenote – James Bond connection alert: Mikkelsen was the baddie with the bloody eye in Casino Royale and Arterton played Agent Fields who ended up drowned in petroleum in Quantum of Solace). French native Louis Leterrier is directing the project, whom I thought did a good job re-imagining the Hulk with Ed Norton. Let’s hope this one is more in the same breath as Gladiator and less Troy

With that note, here’s a list of my fave swords & sandals flicks:

1. Ben Hur – Charlton Heston’s born to play the Jewish Prince (albeit he didn’t look Jewish in the slightest) and the production is what you’d call an epic proportion. Sure it’s a bit cheesy and slow at times, but the incredible chariot race scene alone is worth sitting for the 3+ hours running-time. The story of overcoming injustice and finally finding forgiveness through Christ still touch me to this day. They don’t make flix like this anymore. 

2. Gladiator – Russell Crowe in his Oscar-worthy role as Maximus is still the one to beat. He’s one bad-@$$ with a heart wronged by the very kingdom he’s sworn to protect.

3. 300 – I put this on the list more for Zach Snyder’s directing than Mr’s Butler’s role as Leonidas (although his 12-pack certainly didn’t hurt). The stylized, hyper-realistic visuals were shot almost entirely on green screen. I personally think the stunning CGI work helps distinguish this flix from the rest of the flock.

I’d have put Troy on the list if it weren’t for Pitt’s and Orlando Bloom’s involvement as Achilles and Paris. Even Eric Bana’s noble Hector and Brian Cox’s terrific portrayal as Agamemnon couldn’t save this movie.

So what do you think? Are you ready to be entertained?!