Director: Alejandro Amenabar
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
In 4th century Egypt a battle is brewing between the Christians and the pagans, with Rachel Weisz’s comely philosopher caught in the middle and more concerned with using mathematics and Ptolemaic systems to explain the workings of the heavens. With a budget north of $70m, Agora is clearly intended as a major work, but it’s a sword and sandals epic with the emphasis squarely on the sandals. Trying to condense two thousand years of religious strife into two hours results in an admirable if deeply flawed film, with a subject matter that’s at best dry and sedate and, at worst, thoroughly off putting. The problem is that Monty Python so completely skewered the absurdity of blind faith in organised religion that any attempt at generating sectarian discourse comes across like the AGM of the Judean People’s Front. Blessed are the cheesemakers indeed.