I saw Agora yesterday, and found very little in it that was redeeming. The film depicts the mathematical work of Hypatia, set against a background of religious violence between pagans, Christians, and Jews. The great majority of the film consisted of angry young male religious fanatics, killing another for reasons that were never very well established. All the dialog was excessively melodramatic and unconvincing, and the motivations of all the characters remained obscure.
Given the span of time and the number of characters included in the film, it feels a bit as though they took a trilogy worth of material and crammed it into one film by removing everything that wasn’t a critical plot point. Imagine The Lord of The Rings compressed into two hours by removing everything except key plot points; this film has that kind of pacing. As a result, the film feels like a series of climaxes with no lead-up to give them context or follow-through to show their consequences.
The mathematical sub-plot contrasted aesthetically with all the background violence, but also felt unconvincing and unnatural. Rather than being given any appreciation for why people care so much about the mathematical questions, or what solving them might mean, we are treated to an epistemology reminiscent of Dead Poets Society or an episode of House: all sound bites and sudden insights, with little sense of what makes the knowledge significant.