“Ben Hur” should be renamed “Ben Hurl” because that is what anyone who is familiar with the original movie starring Charlton Heston will do when they see this pitiful remake.

When you are going to spend a hundred million dollars to remake a film, you want to best actors, the best director, the best writers, and the best everything. This movie only had one Academy Award winning actor, Morgan Freeman, and one Academy Award Winning writer, John Ridley, who won for “12 years a Slave.” The rest of the cast, the director and the other writer were really just average at best. MGM took a risk and they lost big time.

“Ben Hur” is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston); a Jewish 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.

Rodrigo Santoro portrays Jesus. Ayelet Zurer is Naomi Ben Hur, Sofia Black D’Elia plays Tirzah Ben Hur, Pilou Asbaek is Pontius Pilate and Morgan Freeman plays Ilderim. The acting is just lukewarm. The two leads are wooden. They put this ridiculous wig on Morgan Freeman that makes him look silly.

The sets and scenery was drop dead gorgeous. Filmed in Granina di Puglia and Matera, Italy, the cinematography was beautiful. I put both of these venues on my “must see” list when I go to Italy.

It was directed by Timu Bekmambetov. Unfortunately, he was not able to get adequate performances from his actors.

The screenplay was written by Keith R. Clark and John Ridley based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

The biggest problem with the film is that the screenplay lacked depth and emotion. The writers changed the ending which was hokey at best and made the whole movie unbelievable.

This is at AMC Eastgate Showplace 6 and AMC Showplace Edwardsville 12.