Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this epic spectacle – its opulence and sweeping grandeur have never been more glorious. Elizabeth Taylor stars as Cleopatra, the glamorous and cunning queen of Egypt. To secure her hold on power, she seduces the rulers of Rome, only to meet her match in Mark Antony, played by Richard Burton. Their passionate romance could decide the fate of the world’s greatest empires.


“Cleopatra” nearly killed 20th Century Fox as a studio. The film burned through two directors and nearly killed its star. So much was lost to produce the flick, that by the time it came out…it cost nearly 14 million dollars. Adjusted for inflation that pushes the total budget closer to 300 million dollars in terms of today. Let’s put that in perspective. Imagine if you combined the total cost of Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” and “X-Men”. Well, we know that the flick was expensive, but was it any good?

“Cleopatra” opens on a basic first act that introduces Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) and her relationship with Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison). Cleopatra loves her new power in the Roman Empire and has no problem ruling under Caesar. But, Caesar is killed and a new man is thrown in her love. The rugged Mark Antony (Richard Burton) wants to help Cleopatra keep her authority in the face of a new Roman Empire. But, Octavian (Roddy McDowall) has a problem with this decision.

So, the last chunk of the flick is spent watching money being thrown onto an open flame. War scenes to kill all war scenes are shown. While, very little character development takes place. It’s practically a montage of Taylor and Burton falling for each other, while wearing period costumes. By this time, I was nearly losing my mind. I had spent a little over four hours staring at this flick. I like epic films, but this was getting ridiculous. The film has been recut several times over the past decades, but it still never managed to find that perfect film that seemed to exist within the first two hours. “Cleopatra” serves as two flicks crammed into one messy plate. If the second half had been giving the time and effort that was exerted for the first half, there would’ve been something. But, all we have is a bloated studio project to observe. Let this be a lesson to all those that would tread familiar territory.

The Blu-Ray comes with commentaries, featurettes and missing footage. The DTS-HD 4.0 master audio track is pretty impressive with an audio mix that blends old world sound design with modern aesthetic. Plus, the 1080p transfer is amazingly sharp for a FOX epic. It’s not quite the Lawrence of Arabia restoration, but it stands among the best of the year. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.


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