I am a huge fan of Wallace's book, and the 1959 film is amongst my favorites. Yes, it had problems (the middle third of the book and several sub-plots were cut and Heston was at least 20 years too old for the part), but the parts that were there were faithful to the source. Not so with this loose adaptation. A number of other reviews have already discussed the changes made in this version; I will add some of my comments to the ongoing discussion.
The one thing they got right was the age of the actor playing Judah; he is both the correct age, and his acting is considerably better than the over-acting of Heston. But that's where it stops.
The number of abridgements, alterations, and fabrications not found in Wallace are far too numerous to list, but a few of the most aggregious are as follows. (1) Judah's motivation; Judah's motivation in the original is to find his family - it is his sole reason for surviving the gallies, the numerous adventures not included in the film, and ultimately the chariot race. In this version, it is reduced to simple revenge, and being reunited with his family becomes an afterthought. (2) Judah is betrothed to Ester before he is taken as a slave; in the book this doess not happen until the very end. (3) Once again, the middle third of the book is missing. (4) An extended subplot involving Agrippa nd Athene that intertwines itself throughout the entire film is introduced that in no was is rooted in Wallace's book.
The issues with the script aside, the acting is quite good throughout, as is the production design and filming. This is certainly a much "smaller" production than the 1959 film (the chariot race is reduced to a street race vice an arena race), but it is self-consistant throughout. It is for these reasons that I have given this 3 stars. Based on writing alone, it would have been 1 or maybe 2 stars.
I could go on and on, but I will stop here. If someone has neither read the book, nor seen the 1959 film, they might find this an interesting film to watch, but if you come to it with any preexisting frame of reference, you will only be disappointed