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May 10, 2010


Agora_poster_07 Alejandro Amenabar ("The Sea Inside") makes a receding leap of faith toward creating a sword-and-sandal epic reinvented as an examination of how philosophy, religion, and astronomy collided in 4th century Alexandria, Egypt. This macro/micro attempt to shed light on modern planetary issues of war and ecology places astronomer and philosopher Hypatia (Rachel Weisz) at the center of a brewing storm between pagans, Jews, and Christians. Hypatia's students follow her lessons with an added amount of sexual tension that evokes the competing romantic efforts by Orestes (Oscar Isaac) and Davus (Max Minghella), Hypatia's personal slave. A bloody uprising by Christians costs the city its library of ancient wisdom,and places Hypatia in the arms of the politically ambitious Roman Orestes. Davus aligns himself with the Christians. The film is a shorthand condemnation of how religion is used by politicians to seize power and control the masses. For all of the massive sets and overstated rumination on the design of the universe, "Agora" is film that fails at every step to be believable.

Not Rated. 126 mins. (C) (Two Stars - out of five/no halves)


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