• VFX artists admire the CGI in 2016’s
    remake, finding it mostly convincing despite some minor flaws in wide shots.
  • Sculpted muscles on CG horses and blend shapes helped create photo-realistic visuals in intense action sequences.
  • Timur Bekmambetov’s adaptation of
    faced criticism for straying from the original story and for heavy CGI usage.

Three VFX artists appraise Timur Bekmambetov’s 2016 epic historical drama Ben-Hur. Based on Lew Wallace’s best-selling novel titled Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, this remake tells the story of the titular character, a prince who seeks to return to his homeland for retribution after being falsely accused of committing treason by his adopted brother and best friend. While previous Ben-Hur releases have been highly regarded, this adaptation was met with mostly negative reviews, and it also ended up a box office failure.

Now, in a video by Corridor Crew, VFX artists Sam, Niko, and Wren break down the visual effects in Bekmambetov’s poorly received Ben-Hur adaptation, stating that it actually looks quite realistic. The trio dissect the different shot angles in a particular scene from the film while also pointing out some of the technical aspects of its excellent CGI. Read their comments below:

There are a lot of shots that are very convincing. It’s only when it goes to the super wide shots that I’m like, wait a minute.

Yeah, you get like the fuzzy drop shadow effect here and there, but all these tights, what’s real and what’s not. That’s what I’m constantly trying to gauge here. This is pretty solid. It’s not suffering from the digital double whacky physics. These crashes are pretty well animated. I’m pretty impressed.

So the thing that Chris mentioned to me that really stood out to me is that they went into ZBrush, and they sculpted muscles onto the CG horses for when they are flexing, and they use those as blend shapes. So they not only did muscle simulation under the skin of the horses because it’s one thing to do human rag dolls, but they have horses crashing, so horses are doing moves that you can’t motion capture, you can’t really simulate, so animators and sculptors are going in and making the most photo-real horses.


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Why Was Bekmambetov’s Ben-Hur Adaptation Poorly Received?

2016’s Ben-Hur Came On The Heels Of More Acclaimed Adaptations

Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman shaking hands in Ben-Hur

Prior to the release of the 2016 adaptation of Ben-Hur, previous iterations, especially the 1925 silent version and the Academy Award-winning 1959 movie, have been regarded as some of the best and culturally relevant movies to have ever been released. This was why there was some general skepticism and anticipation for the 2016 Ben-Hur, which ended up being a massive letdown. The movie currently has a critics score of 25% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed only $94 million worldwide against its $100 million production budget.

Ben-Hur was met with heavy criticism for a number of reasons. While many critics admitted the film initially managed to introduce the crux of the source material, the biggest issue with the movie came in its progression, which many argued completely muddled up the main themes and elements of the original story. Other major criticisms of Ben-Hur were its heavy use of CGI, which some critics found over the top, and certain casually violent action sequences that didn’t do much in the way of the story’s progression.

Aside from the above criticism that was leveled against Ben-Hur, the movie was also shrouded in controversy post-release. The inclusion of Jesus of Nazareth and how his character was depicted didn’t go down well with many. While Jesus appears in the original story and plays a crucial role, Bekmambetov’s adaptation reduces him to a supporting character whose story is simply attached to that of Ben-Hur. This, along with a number of other reasons, contributed to the poor reception of the latest film adaptation of Ben-Hur.

Source: Corridor Crew


Ben-Hur is an action epic that retells the story of Judah Ben Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother and best friend. Now, stripped of his title and separated from his family, Judah spends years at sea enslaved by the Romans. Despite his predicament, Judah will return to his homeland to seek revenge – but instead, may find redemption.

Timur Bekmambetov

Release Date
August 12, 2016

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Keith R. Clarke , John Ridley

Jack Huston , Toby Kebbell , Rodrigo Santoro , Morgan Freeman , Nazanin Boniadi


$100 million

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