Reel Thoughts on the Ben-Hur Trailer

My hope is that anyone who is reading this saw my previous post which linked the First Ben-Hur trailer or at least saw the trailer some other way.  This is a movie I have been looking forward too for a very long time and have been very nervous about seeing the first trailer because it would tell me a lot about the style of the film they are going for.  Will it be more like Gladiator? 300? Pompeii? Hercules? What where they going for?  Well now we have our first look.. and I would like to give you my thoughts on it!

The trailer opens up with the famous Galley scene.  You see a bearded Ben-Hur in the belly of the Galley with the other slaves when suddenly he looks out his small window and sees a body tied to the ramming portion of a ship heading right for him.  The ship breaks apart and we as the viewer are looking through the eyes of Ben-Hur has he is thrown out of the Galley and into the air.  We catch a glimpse of the vastness of the battle and I must admit.  I was in awe.  Yes, did the effects look under done? yep.  However, how many times have we said that about a first trailer only to get to the theater and see that they have been fixed… this film is still 5 months away!

The look of the film is very nice and the feel of the trailer I feel adequately captures the more action oriented aspects of the story.  Camera angles where different in an attempt to give us the same story many are familiar with while still trying to give us something new.

The performance we see from Jack Huston and from Toby Kebbell look fantastic. Will they be Oscar worthy? Probably not… but might I point out that the performances in Ben-Hur, if competing today, would not have even been considered.  It is a different time.

Over all I was very pleased with what I saw… Who knows, a few weeks from now, after I viewed this thing 100 more times I might realize that I am only pleased because I am relieved.  It doesn’t look like 300, it doesn’t look like Pompeii, it doesn’t look like Hercules.  As the big fan of Ridley Scott that I am I would have liked it to look more like Gladiator but that is just me and I am equally pleased that this film has a very original look to it.

Now, as a fan of the novel, what was I displeased with?  Well, I can already see that changes have been made that I do not believe where necessary.  It looks as though Ben-Hur is found, washed assure by Sheik Ilderim.  This bothers me for two reasons, and that is that it looks like it eliminates two characters from the story.  Or at least diminishes them. Quintus Arrius was in the trailer as the War Ship Commander but it looks like Ben-Hur does not rescue him which eliminates the part of the story where Quintus adopts him as a son. A portion I am very fond of…. but… I can live without if they tell me a good alternate story.  The second Character that looks to be removed is Balthasar.  Now, this is only examining a trailer from a few clips but judging from that it looks as though Balthasar is not in the film.  This bothers me because it means they probably will not begin the movie the way I would like them to.  With the three wise man… one of those being Balthasar.

This would also eliminate a third character I just thought of… which I already figured was eliminated being that she was eliminated from the 1959 version and they announced no actress to play her, but Iras is one of the more complex Characters in the original story as we watch her go from a beautiful girl who Ben-Hur falls in love with and originally marries (That’s right… he picked the wrong woman) to a villainous puppet master who actually ends up killing her second lover after Ben-Hur… Messala. Yep, Ben-Hur doesn’t kill him… she does… what evil!

Another change from the original novel is also a big deal to me. I was hoping they wouldn’t change this but they did.  Pontius Pilate is shown in the trailer as the runner of the Chariot race.  This goes against the very character of Pilate in the novel.  A man who enters Jerusalem after a governor who has really made a mess of things. He is level headed and tries to make things right by the people.  Freeing prisoners who where arrested under sketchy circumstances. This Pilate would also fit very well with the Pilate we see in scripture who tried everything he could to prevent the Crucifixion of Jesus. Also, by having Pilate rule these games means that they are being held in Jerusalem which is not Antioch where they are supposed to be, unintentionally shrinking Ben-Hurs world and making it, to me, seem less epic than the original story actually was.

Now, to spite these changes, all I ask is that this film be a well told story that has the same skeleton of a story as the original novel.  To that end, I like what I see so far!  What do you think?

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Why should I bother to see Risen?

“The Picture Every Christian Ought to See!” That was the tag line for the 1925 version of Ben-Hur.  It appeared right there on the poster! My, how times have changed! In 1925 this was smart advertising, today, this would probably be marketing suicide! Why?  Well, it would be easy to say “Because liberal Hollywood would not want any of their films marked like this, and if there was a film with this tagline Hollywood would try to bury it.”  But the truth of the matter is, Hollywood is not the reason this would not work anymore.  What is the reason? Well, its complicated but here is a list of why I think this type of advertising simply wouldn’t work (Note: I am going to over simplify here)

  1. “The Picture Every Christian Ought to See!” in today’s cynical culture sounds like it will be some type of Michael Moore style documentary telling Christians everything they have done wrong.
  2. This labels the movie as being for Christians thus causing people to believe it will be poorly written, low budget and preachy.
  3. Some Christians would be skeptical of a movie Hollywood thinks Christians might like because of past hurts like Noah, or Exodus.
  4. We don’t like to be told to do something… Christian and non-Christian alike.

There is a film coming out this weekend called “Risen.” This film in 1925 could have had this tagline but instead it has been given a different marketing push.  The ads say “From the studio that brought you Heaven is for Real and War Room.”  When I saw this add I cringed because this type of advertising is going to have a very similar effect as “The Picture Every Christian Ought to See!” minus the 4th reason.  Yet, out of all the Christian friendly films that have come out the last 12 months, this is the one I feel is the most important to get behind so I am going to address two types of people in this post and make an argument why both these types of people should go out and see Risen this weekend! Not next weekend… THIS WEEKEND!

I LIKE MOVIES LIKE WAR ROOM BUT DON’T LIKE MOVIES LIKE NOAH, WHY SHOULD I BOTHER?

  1. This is not Noah… or Exodus! – It is easy for me to understand why Christians did not like Noah or Exodus. You probably felt that (aside from being boring) they were disrespectful of the source material.  Well, I have a question for you, how did you feel about The Passion of the Christ? Was it respectful to the source material? The script Risen is based off of was originally written and presented to the producers of The Passion of the Christ as a sequel.  It was liked but they decided to go in a different direction, opting to make a prequel about Mary instead (a project that still has not made it off the ground.)  The script was so well liked that Kevin Reynolds decided to do it himself and worry about a distributer later.  I have followed this project a long time, through multiple name changes (Resurrection, Clavius, Risen) and Kevin Reynolds has had it in his mind to make a movie that would be a good story and stay true to what Christians believe.  How can we know he succeeded? Well, that is where the studio that brought you War Room comes in.  Sony liked the film and felt that it best fit in their faith based wing Affirm Films.
  2. Did you like Ben-Hur – I have been saying for many years now that when looking at telling Biblical stories in a new and fresh way, what you should do is tell the same old story from the eyes of someone new. Someone who either was just mentioned a few times in scripture or someone completely fictitious.   Take note of stories like Ben-Hur.  It was at one time considered a film every Christian should see yet much of the movie takes place outside the Biblical narrative.   That is what I have been wanting to see from a big budget Hollywood Biblical Epic… and that is what this story is!
  3. Would you like a film with a quality you can be proud of? – Some of my Christian friends wrongfully believe that to be ashamed of a Christian movie is to be ashamed of Christ. That is not true! I love the message of many Christian films but feel that the message could have been delivered with better care.  This film was made with the love and passion of a film maker.  This will be quality film making… with the Christ story at the center!
  4. Would you like a film specifically focused on your skeptical friend? – The main character is a Roman soldier. He led the crucifixion (or so it seems, I have not seen the movie yet), he saw Jesus die and then is placed in charge of investigating the rumors of the risen Christ.   He does not believe this could have happened… but… (Spoiler Alert) He comes face to face with the same man he killed… What does that do to a man? Would that turn a skeptic to a believer? The story was written in such a way that it would speak most to a skeptic!

I CAN’T STAND CHRISTIAN MOVIES! THEY ARE POORLY WRITTEN AND POORLY MADE! WHY SHOULD I BOTHER WITH THIS ONE!

  1. Do you hate movies like War Room? – I completely understand. Now here is this movie saying that it is from the same studio.  Why bother? Well, because it really isn’t the same makers.  You see, War Room was made by The Kendrick Brothers with no help of funding from Affirm Films.  Affirm Films (A branch of Sony Pictures) only distributes movies they feel will appeal to Christians.  They have no hand in any part of the making of the films (at least most of their films.)  Affirm Films has nothing to do with the quality or message of the movie!
  2. Do you like well told stories? – One of the major reasons I feel it is so important for Christians to support this film above others is because a message needs to be sent to these independent studios. We don’t just want Christian content, we want well made, well told stories from a Christian perspective. Kevin Reynolds is, in my opinion, a sourly underrated director and a wonderful story teller!  He doesn’t come out with many films because he spends a while on one film, and usually it shows… or at least it has shown in his past few outings.  The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) took a very long and difficult story to tell in 2 hours and he pieced it together masterfully! He also directed The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s for the History Channel and he so wonderfully shown the intense and slow escalation of that feud in a way that made me step back and go, “Wow, I can’t believe we started here and now look where we are!”
  3. Do you feel there should be more diversity in films today? – It is a big deal in Hollywood right now, Exodus, God’s of Egypt, these are just two movies that are being ridiculed for their “white-washing” but the cast of Risen is very ethnically diverse. The cast is made up of Spanish, Latino, Irish,  and many other ethnicity including the man who plays Jesus who I think is fittingly ethically ambiguous.

 

CONCLUSION

Deadpool, a Rated R raunchy Comic Book movie made around $130 Million this weekend.  It’s R-rating literally means it is restricted.  Yet, somehow it made this much in just 3 days.  Just one week later, we as Christians have an opportunity to make a statement too.  What is restricting us from seeing Risen?  I plan to on Friday! I promise to post my review as soon as I can!

2016 – Biblical and Faith Movies due out this year

Well, it is now 2016! Another year of movies has passed and another batch is being prepared for release.  I would like to present a list of Christian movies or TV Series, Bible Based movies or TV Series or movies based on the life of Jesus that will be coming out in 2016.  For those of you who have followed my blog this year you might have realized that the list I made last year had changed and shifted throughout the year.  Some of the movies on this list where on that list.  This happens in the film industry and is more likely to happen with smaller independent films or films that make the studio nervous.

With that said, this list I feel is a little more solidified then last year’s list.  So here it is!
Let’s Start with TV.

March 8th 2016Of Kings and Prophets – This is an ongoing TV series based on King Saul and David. It was originally supposed to air in the fall of 2015 but was pushed back due to “Creative changes.” Though I will be keeping an eye on this show… I am extremely cautious and really am not expecting much from it.

Films

January 25th 2016 – The Pastor – I almost didn’t include this on the list because of being unfamiliar with the Studio, or the fact that the Director hasn’t done much before, or the fact that it is only scheduled for a limited release right now.   But I included it because the premise seems interesting to me and I think would seem interesting to anyone who would want to read this list.  I have no idea if this independent movie is a “Christian Movie” or if it just has “Christian overtones.” Either way, it is on this list for your consideration.

April 1st 2016 – God’s Not Dead 2 – I didn’t love God’s Not Dead… but I didn’t hate it either and I must admit that the trailer peaked my interest a little bit.  I understand that many Christians loved the first one and are looking forward to the second, there is a place in some Christian’s where these movies touch.  It is similar to “wish fulfilment” yet, it’s something different.  I have heard it described in many ways but if people think that only Christians like movies that are propaganda for a particular point of view then you are blind.  I do however wish they picked a different release date! I mean…  come on, this movie will be made fun of enough… did you really need to help things along by releasing it on April Fools?

April 29th 2016 – Same Kind of Different as Me – Based on the inspirational book of the same name, this film, another Indie project by an unknown director who has only every directed a short film before doing this feature is another wild card.  Not only is this first time director directing but he is also writing, and producing this film.  Both of which are also his firsts.  I am not saying this WILL be bad, people can surprise you out of the gate.  Many Hollywood directors have made Masterpieces as their first films. However, more fail out of the gate.

August 12th, 2016 – The Shack – Based on the book by William Paul Young that has been praised by some in Christian circles and ridiculed by others for its “inaccurate” theology regarding the trinity this film is sure to make some waves. At one point Oprah was even involved! This film should be one to watch out for!
Films About Jesus

February 19th 2016 – RisenThis film is one I have been waiting a long time for.  In fact, this was on the list I posted last year.  On that list it was called Clavius and the date was unspecified.  Since then it has been picked up by Sony Pictures and will be released under their Affirm Films banner.  This film has been in the works for a while, it started as a script commissioned to be an official sequel to The Passion of the Christ.  After being rejected in favor of doing a prequel about Mary, Kevin Reynolds picked it up and decided to direct it.  For those of you who do not know Kevin Reynolds, he is #1 on my list of most underrated directors in Hollywood.  He directed my current favorite film of all time the Count of Monte Cristo he also directed the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries which I really enjoyed! He may not be a director that ALWAYS pleases he is one that excites me when he is passionate about a project and it has been his passion for this project that has gotten it over all the hoops to bring us this film for 2016.  People…  I am serious… this film is a reason to be excited!… mark your calendars! Everything I see and know about this project tells me this is going to be special!

March 11th 2016 – The Young Messiah Based on the Anne Rice novel “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” this film tells a fictional account of Jesus as a young boy just as his family is leaving Egypt to return to Israel.  I have not read the book and I am aware that there is some controversy surrounding the novel but I have some trusted friends that assure me there isn’t anything offensive in the novel.  Maybe I should say their “Shouldn’t be anything offensive in the novel” because some people will be offended at any type of speculation when it comes to Jesus.  As long as everyone keeps in mind that it is not trying to speak historical fact this film should be interesting.  I do wonder though… why did Jesus have a British accent as a Child born of Jews and raised in Egypt?

June 30th 2016 – Last Days in the Desert – While technically a 2015 film that has already been released very limitedly, I am including this here because most of you will not get to see it until this year. This is also an Indie Film. However, this is different.  Instead of a film being made for the purpose of spreading the Gospel (Which I don’t think there is anything wrong with) the main focus on this film is to make a film. It is a better place to start and a place that I wish Christian film makers would start.  Ewan McGregor plays Jesus, which is Ironic because there is that Facebook meme going around showing him as Obi Wan Kenobi where some elderly lady (assumption) has placed his picture on a shelf because she thought it was a picture of Jesus.  Well… now she can find an actual picture of Ewan McGregor as Jesus.  I don’t know if this film will be insulting to Christians or if it will be “believer friendly” but the buzz I am hearing says it will not offend.

August 12th 2016 – Ben-Hur –  This film is a polarizing film.  Many who love the 1959 version cry foul because they say you shouldn’t remake a classic like this! But then there are people like me. I am a huge fan of the novel, and though I loved the 1959 version, there is so much that was left out that I think shouldn’t have been.  In the novel the chariot race happens only half way in.  The second half of the novel is only about the last half hour of the film and if you have read the novel you would see that they really rushed things to get to the end of the story.  My hope is that they will include more of the end of the novel, my favorite part.  But I also want to mention, in 1925 there was a film called Ben-Hur, it was fantastic, is was considered a classic and if they would have taken the advice of the nay sayers today, we would never have the 1959 Masterpiece. Yes, it is most likely not going to live up to the original but it might… is it worth a shot? I think so.  What is the worst that could happen? People will always have the 1959 version. And this gives my Son a chance to see this fantastic story in a movie that hasn’t alienated him by age.

 

As you might have already notice, it’s not quite “The Year of the Bible” but I might be tempted to call it “The Year of Jesus” since there are more films about Jesus coming out in 2016 than usual.  Would you like to see more movies that bring attention to Biblical stories? Then go see these! Vote with your money… and go see them opening weekend if you can, it is the weekend where your money will speak the loudest!

Have a Happy 2016 and may it be a great year for Christians to go to the movies!

BEN-HUR DELAYED 6 MONTHS!… Is this bad or good?

Yesterday I read some news that was quite depressing to me. I have three movies that I simply can’t wait for.  I am literally counting down the days until they come out. 57 days until Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 155 days till Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and 127 days until Ben-Hur.  I honestly cannot figure out which one I am more excited for but I do know which of these counts just changed.  Paramount announced yesterday “Ben-Hur has been pushed back to August 12, 2016… and the Reel Pastor can be found curled up in a corner crying.” Ok, the last portion was not part of the original announcement but it doesn’t make it less real.

After a night of screaming “Why! Why Paramount Why?” I woke up this morning and decided to try to answer that question.  Since the announcement did not include an answer, the following will be a lot of speculation based on facts.

The first conclusion that one might be tempted to jump to would be that there are issues with the movie and that this move is a bad thing.  There are some rumblings going around the internet movie blogging sphere that say the move was about needing more time to work on the film.  None of those rumblings say anything about “fixing” the film.  In fact, everything I could find has attributed the delay to the film being on such a large scale it is taking longer than they anticipated.  So, even if the delay was simply about putting more work into the film, that in itself could point to good things.  I would be upset if they released a version of the film that could have used an extra 6 months of work. But are there more reasons to view this as a good thing?

When the February release date was announced I was concerned.  January and February have traditionally been dumping grounds for films that the studios don’t have any confidence in.  It is a time of year where much of the population is blocked in their homes due to an abundance of snow.  But this does not mean a film couldn’t succeed there.  In fact, my thought was that the strategy might be to capitalize on the low amount of competition in those months giving Ben-Hur a good amount of time to dominate at the box-office.  I pictured Ben-Hur as this giant of a film just stomping on all the little films crushing them under its big feet.  I was starting to warm up to the date.

Now, in recent years things have begun to change and some people have called August, the new February.  I think that is going a bit far but some may say it is the dumping ground for the summer season.  If you have a movie that you think could be a summer blockbuster… but you just aren’t confident enough to say it is… put it in August.  Is that what they are doing with Ben-Hur? I have reason to believe they are not.  Let me explain why.

The February date placed Ben-Hur the same weekend as the Academy Awards.  A time when movie fans will be more likely to spend a good block of time at home and not at the theaters.  Moving from that date tells me they might have a little more confidence in the film then they originally had.  But, why pick August 12th?  August 12th places Ben-Hur right smack dab in the middle of the 2016 Summer Olympics! Could it be, that this move is not simply a show of a little more confidence, but could it be a bold confident move by a studio who might think they have something special?  What if Paramount is now planning a huge promotional push during the first week of the Olympics? The theme of the story fits tone of the story fits PERFECTLY with the Olympics! You could do a media push conjuring up the history of competition.  You could do all sorts of sponsorships and have athletes wearing Ben-Hur apparel.  Scenes of the chariot race could be shown at every commercial break.  It could just be a brilliant move! Then, during the second week of the Olympics, Ben-Hur’s first week in release, if it should hit #1 at the boxoffice you can now run ads that say “Go and see the number 1 movie in America!”

I just got done saying that August has become kind of a dumping ground for films that studios might not be as confident in… but when I say that, I am not talking about Paramount.  Paramount placed Mission Impossible 5 in August.  Mission Impossible was not a film they were concerned about, it was a big tent pole film for them. Over all, even though I hate the fact that I now have to wait almost an entire year to see this film I am pleased with the possibilities that a move like this could mean.  I think that instead of the move showing problems, it actually shows confidence and that makes me excited!

PARAMOUNT TO REMAKE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS!

It is being reported by The Tracking Board that Paramount Pictures is still very much interested in doing more Biblical Epics.  In February, Ben-Hur, the third official big screen adaptation of the classic novel will hit theaters.  ShareBenHur.com has stated that a trailer to that movie will drop by the end of October. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see it! But, what The Tracking Board is reporting is not about Ben-Hur… they are saying that Paramount is developing a remake of The Ten Commandments!

I know what you might be thinking, “But, we just had Exodus: God’s and Kings.” Yes, you are right… but, for many people that film fell flat.  I personally found much of it to be enjoyable but I must admit it was quite a letdown for me.  I didn’t think it was as terrible as others thought… but I also shared in my review that I seem to have a blind spot when it comes to Ridley Scott films.

Along with my disappointment of Exodus, my biggest disappointment was that we would not have another chance of seeing a well done “10 Commandments” type adaption.  An adaption that would be more pleasing to people of faith.  Has my hope been resurrected?… well… slightly, but not a ton.

Yes, Paramount is doing Ben-Hur, which I am expecting to be very friendly to the faith community, but it is not because of Paramount.  Don’t forget, Paramount is responsible for bring us Noah. A film I don’t have mixed feelings about.  I don’t think I could have been more disappointed with it.  The reason I have confidence in Ben-Hur is because of the producers, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. These two, no matter what your opinion is of them, have been trying very hard to make content that lifts up the faith community instead of tear them down.  They are the ones guiding Ben-Hur… so who is guiding this Ten Commandments remake?

The Tracking Board has listed two producers on the film.  One of those names is Cale Boyter.  Boyter was a producer on The Nativity Story. The Nativity Story, though not as strong of a movie as I was hoping for, it still was decent and certainly took the birth of Christ seriously.  This name allows for hope.  The second name they listed was Mary Parent.  How does that name settle with me right now? Not very well.  Parent was a producer on Noah.  That gives me a lot of pause.

Is there still hope? I think so.  There are two reasons why I still have hope.  The first is that there were many reports back before Noah came out that Paramount was pushing for a move Biblical cut of the film.  Now, when they say “Paramount” who do they mean? Could Mary Parent have been pushing for a more biblical film? I don’t know but it is possible.  One thing that I think it tells me is that Paramount would be going into this film thinking they want to be more biblical then Noah. The second reason I still have hope is because I think it is possible for Mary Parent to have learned from Noah.  You see, Noah made money, but I think it could have made a lot more if it we less fantasy and more biblical.  I think Mary knows that too.  I think Paramount knows this.  That is exactly why they are not letting the failure of Exodus keep them from trying this.

Is there reason to stay cautious? Yes! Beyond the fact that it is Paramount, who released Noah and the fact that it has one of the same producers, the article also mentions that they are looking for a director/writer who can give “a different take” on the classic story.  Those words always make me cringe.  Noah was certainly a different take on the classic story… but you could say that Ben-Hur was a different take on the crucifixion story. Those words don’t mean they want to go the way of Noah but it does nothing to calm my fears either.

My conclusion is, I am excited for a Ten Commandments remake! If we get another Noah, so what! Really Noah is just going to fade into the background.  No one is going to consider it a classic, it is not going to air every year around Easter of Christmas. It is simply a movie that disappointed the faith community.  SO if the Ten Commandments goes that rout, so what.  But if they learn from the past, the fact they are developing a remake gives us yet another chance to see this biblical story come to life in a spectacular way! You might be ready to say “I think the chances of a great movie are slim.” Well… Slim is better than none… and I am not convinced the chances are slim.  I eagerly look forward to hearing who they find to write and direct this film.  Knowing that could give us a little more insight into what type of movie they are shooting for.

BEN-HUR MUSIC COMPOSER!

A few weeks back I posted a wish list of individuals that I hoped would be writing the score for the upcoming remake of Ben-Hur.  You see, the score for a movie is very important to me.  It is part of the movie experience. I don’t just watch a movie, I experience a movie.  A good score can make a good movie seem great and a bad score can make a good movie seem dull. My favorite scores transport me back to the movie when I hear it. Hans Zimmer is great at this.  When I hear the Gladiator score I think of Gladiator, the Man of Steel score brings me back to the Man of Steel, The Blackhawk Down score brings me back to Blackhawk Down and the Pirates of the Caribbean score brings me back to Jack Sparrow.  Hans Zimmer is not the only one that can help a movie in this way, there are many amazing scores out there that conjure up the film in our minds when we hear them.  To me, that is what I ask of a movie score. I want a score for Ben-Hur that will have a specifically Ben-Hur flavor.  I want a score that adds to the flavor of the film and one that I like to listen to in my car.

In my previous post on this subject I said that I heard one unreliable source that Junkie XL (Mad Max: Furry Road) had landed the job.  I said that I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out this was the case.  I was, however, more surprised then I thought I would be to find out that Junkie XL will NOT be scoring Ben-Hur.   Instead, a composer by the name of Marco Beltrami will be scoring the film. Now, this has not been announced by the studio, however it has been listed on The Marco Beltrami Universe, a site that seems to be a fan site. IMDB has now also posted on Marco Beltrami’s IMDB page.  This does seem to be more legitimate than before so, with this information, who is Marco Beltrami?

I listen to a lot of movie scores, but I do not know every composer and Marco Beltrami is not a name I am readily familiar with.  I needed to look him up, and what I saw didn’t really disappoint me! Yeah, he wouldn’t have been my first choice, he didn’t make my wish list, but when I looked over the list of films that he has worked on I wanted to see a film on there that I could connect with a specific sound.  As I read down the list I got to The Giver, BINGO! The music from The Giver is beautiful and when I hear it I think The Giver!

Beltrami began raising through the ranks by taking on some horror movies.  He was a frequent collaborator with Wes Craven and has done all the Scream movies.  He also began working with Guillermo del Toro with the film Mimic, del Toro continued to use him for Hell Boy, a comic book film that del Toro is well known for. Beltrami continued to take on higher profile projects such as I, Robot and Flight of the Phoenix.  In 2007 he got his first of two Academy Award nominations for 3:10 to Yuma, a remake of a classic, just like Ben-Hur!  The 3:10 to Yuma score is amazing and I will link it below with a few other selections from Beltrami.

The news of Beltrami composing Ben-Hur excites me for many reasons, first, he is a very capable composer, he is Academy Award Nominated. He has been hired to score remakes of classics before and he did so by putting out his best work to that point.  He also scored The Hurt Locker which got him his second nomination.  I feel 3:10 to Yuma marks a turning point in his career, he has put out his best work since then.  So, think about it, you have a composer who has been in the game for many years now, he has had two Academy Award Nominations but no wins, the last time he was hired to do a remake of a classic movie he put out his best work… now he has been hired to do a remake of an even more beloved classic with a beloved score and he has been getting better and better.  Do you think he will be hungry for an Academy Award win? Do you think he will give it his all on this project? This is very exciting news for the Ben-Hur project and I cannot wait to hear what Beltrami comes up with!

Below I will link a few videos, the first video I would encourage everyone to check out to see how serious this guy is about scoring films, it is very encouraging.  the rest will be samples of my favorite scores that he has done.

This is from the Giver

And this is from what I consider his best scoe so far, 3:10 to Yuma

BEN-HUR NEWS: A NEW PHOTO FROM SET, JACK HUSTON SPEAKS ON THE FILM, TRAILER SPECULATION

We are indeed getting closer to seeing the first trailer for Ben-Hur.  In Fact, I expect it sometime in the next 2 weeks.  Really, the possibility that the first trailer could drop any day now is really high.  I have been keeping my eye open for it!  I know that the first trailer for Zoolander 2 (which is also distributed by Paramount) has already received it’s classification and is ready to drop within the next few days. That film opens February 12 and Ben-Hur is set to open February 26th.  The price tag on Ben-Hur makes me wonder why they haven’t begun promoting the film already (releasing official movie stills, movie posters.) Don’t be tempted to think this has anything to do with the quality of the film yet.  I have no knowledge of there marketing strategies and am just speculating on what often is the norm.  Plenty of film marketing has deviated from the norm and still found success. John Wick’s first trailer dropped a month before the movie was released.  Granted that was a movie that was made for only $20 Million and made only $40 Million but it does show that each movie has it’s own strategy.

With that said, a photo was released showing Roma Downey and Mark Burnett on the set of Ben-Hur.  Any fan of Ben-Hur movie or novel will automatically recognize the set. The photo does make me smile. Do you recognize it?

Ben-Hur Set

Also, Jack Huston was asked in an interview at Comic-Con about the film.  He said a few things, all which make me feel good about the movie.  He also did seem to forget Charlton Heston’s name.  That’s ok Mr. Huston, sometimes names slip from my mind too.  I don’t know if he ever saw the 1959 version but if he didn’t that would be fine with me because he says in the interview that this is a different take.  he says the golden words.  The words I wanted to hear! He says that instead of going back to the 1959 movie, they went back to the Lew Wallace Novel!… and when he said that… i leaped for joy… I did… right here at my desk… knocked my knee pretty hard… but it was worth it.  Check out the interview in the link below!  What do you think, do his words excite you for the film or scare you?

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1257251