Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Agora: Review

God, I've been putting off this review for a long long time now.
So okay, last year I saw this movie called Agora because I love Rachel Weisz and wouldn't pass up a chance to see her in nothing but a tunic. Agora is a Spanish film about Hypatia of Alexandria played by Weisz who tries to unite the city of Agora that has been torn apart by civil war between the Christians and the Pagans and Jews.
Let me first start the review by saying that I never supported Rachel Weisz winning her Oscar for The Constant Gardener. If anything she should have gotten nominated for Supporting Actress in The Fountain or even My Blueberry Nights. But in Agora, I solemnly feel that she was robbed of the Best Actress award. How the hell Sandra Bullock won is beyond me after watching Agora.
Weisz brings to life an iconic figure of feminism with the hardheadedness of the character Mulan and the grace of Mother Theresa. Every second of her on screen was breathtaking, so dynamic in vision and subtle in execution. Bar none, Hypatia is Rachel Weisz's best role to date. And speaking of date.. I wanna date Rachel Weisz! She so fine.
And her performance speaks a lot more considering the limited material she had to work with. Now, this movie is a complete borefest, it's 2 hours of long political talk in the fanciest language imaginable which was real agony to watch. The best scenes with the fights and Hypatia's scenes were all and all 30 minutes of the entire film. The rest were just........ zzzzzzzz.
And there was really a high chance for me to not like Hypatia at all in the movie because she was written so one dimensionally, that if I just read the script instead of watching Rachel Weisz'ss interpretation, Hypatia would have seemed more of a whinny feminist than a heroine. But Weisz stills pulls it off despite all that
But where the writing of this movie lacked, it made up for in it's stunning art direction. I mean, the architecture of Agora is really marvelous to look at. It puts the art direction in Troy to shame. Everything in the film is sweeping and epic in it's scope and the detail is super. And I like the sort of white wash cinematography Agora had and how it gets darker as the film progresses, symbolizing the lost of innocence in the city as war and religion tears a once great city apart. The costumes were okay. They're pretty much the same costumes in any other biblical Roman themed movie.
I can go on and on about all the plus points Agora has, but one thing that keeps making me give this movie a lower rating is the fact that Agora is really really boring. And I like boring movies. I sat through Gone With The Wind without so much as a yawn but I could barely keep myself conscious when I was watching this on my computer. For the most part, the scenes in Agora are great and completely necessary for the story.. but it's still so boring!
Also I'm kind of taken aback by the portrayal of Christians and Christianity in this. Agora has Christians being somewhat like medieval age Nazis who are trying to "cleanse" the city of non-Christians. Now I am fully aware that these are based on historical facts but still, them Christians couldn't have been that villainous right?
You know, I think I would have liked Agora more if I saw the movie on HBO or Hallmark or like on the History Channel or something. Cause that was what Agora came off as, a really really great movie made for television, something you would enjoy if you came across it when flipping through Astro or something
So yeah, Agora is a solid historical film with a stunning one woman show by Rachel Weisz. Other than that, it is pretty much an average boring period piece.

RATING: 6/10


Idzwan Phoenix said...

i've always wanted to watched this one and yeah, simply because it has rachel weisz in it...and i think i migh like it based on how you describe it to be full of long-winded talks on politics...kinda like one of my favourite genre...i'm such a boring guy

Nicholas C said...

Naw that's awesome. People who can enjoy heavy smart films are the ones I really respect. it's the Twilight girls that are boring.

Girls: Like Oh Mi Gaaaa.. He's like so hot.

Me: Okay okay... what else?

Girls: Uhhhhhhh.. yeah he's hot

kentfx said...

The city in the movie was Alexandria, not Agora. Agora just means "marketplace".

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVED this movie! Even though my PhD is in Engineering, I have long been a fan of history, and they really could not have done a better job with this script... from a historic prospective. Now, I am aware that screen portrayals of reality are "sleep inducing" for some people (LOL), but for people who love facts and quality production value, then this is a film for you. If you are one of those good people who prefer extremely lazy historic research, but great action then Starz Channel's "Spartacus" would be more your speed.
As to the stuff about the Christians, that is really important for people to see, especially for those who do not understand the realities of Christianity during that period, and the turmoil within the Roman Empire as the MANY denominations fought over the direction of the various branches of the religion, and for understanding the foundations of why Islam evolved from this group of "Early Christians". It is an important part of our shared cultural history... but it was not pretty; then again, the truth never is. It is also important to note the level of science, and how far the Christians pushed humanity backwards, as Dr. Carl Sagan reported in his groundbreaking series "Cosmos" - wherein the first episode he talked about the people mentioned in this movie. Do not forget that we could have had the industrial revolution, at several points from 300 BCE to 400 CE, if it were not for various Zealots (of many faiths) who believed that science is "witchcraft". Also, keep in mind that it was in that Library/College that the worlds first Steam engine was invented and the worlds most complex analog computer - used in plotting star-charts and nautical navigation was also engineered. I highly recommend that people read the main character's books. They are brilliant!!! :)


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