Today’s Variety story about Paramount and MGM teaming on a theatrical remake of Ben-Hur is one thing, but agreeing to hire a known animal like Timur Bekmambetov to direct is…I don’t know how to react in a single phrase but “sick joke” is the first thing that came to mind. It’s not just that Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln — Vampire Hunter) is generally regarded as lacking in aesthetic couth. It’s the metaphor suggested by this unholy alliance. What this project symbolizes is present-day corporate Hollywood (even with the respectable John Ridley having co-authored the screenplay) getting up and lumbering over and dropping its pants and taking a giant smelly gooey brown dump on classic Hollywood history. How do you like that milkshake, o ye ghosts of William Wyler and Charlton Heston? Your Oscar-winning 1959 revenge flick is about to be re-interpreted and CG-ed to death by a Russian-born director who looks like a vodka-swilling garbageman who beats his wife. Which reminds me: Wyler’s chariot-race sequence can not and will not be improved upon because it was all shot live and 100% organically, and there’s no way in hell Bekmambetov can hope to replicate its impact, much less better it.