(This review may contain spoilers).
I haven’t seen the previous version of this movie, or read the book this is based on, but seeing as I enjoy watching movies set in the kind of time period this one was set in, I was immediately interested in watching this.
I liked that this movie started with the conflict between Judah and Messala. While I didn’t know then why their relationship was fractured, the first scene did succeed in drawing me in from the start… and then it was good to be able to have the opportunity to see how things progressed.
I liked being able to see the relationship between the brothers, though I was a bit confused about why Judah’s family had adopted Messala. I would have liked a bit more detail about that kind of history between them.
I did have a lot of sympathy for Messala and I could see why he didn’t feel like he fit in with Judah’s family. There were some hints of conflict in the household… but some of those hints didn’t really go anywhere; such as Judah’s relationship with Esther. Despite mention being made of the differences in their stations, there were no obvious problems.
I liked seeing the clear differences in the brothers, with Messala a warrior and Judah only fighting back when his family was threatened. I did feel that he was a bit naive at times, but considering his status in Jerusalem, I could understand why he wouldn’t necessarily see things the same way as people like Esther did.
Even though this movie had a low age rating (I was surprised to see it was only a 12A), it was good to see it didn’t shy away from showing the violent tensions between the Jews and the Romans. And as a Christian, I was very happy to see the historical figure of Jesus appear… even though he wasn’t the main focus.
I did feel this movie didn’t use the ethnicity that should have existed in that time… and I also had the impression Judah was wearing jeans during one scene. But although those problems were noticeable, I didn’t feel they really detracted from the movie, even if they did give me pause.
There were a lot of good moments of tension throughout and by the time the movie was finished, I wanted to watch it again. I would definitely buy this movie on DVD.