The chemistry between Leonor Varela, who stars as the bewitching queen Cleopatra, and Billy Zane, as the steadfast Marc Antony, is undeniable. Their love scene is one of the steamiest to hit network television. However, on... more »ce you move beyond this couple's sexual energy, the movie tends to droop, leaning toward the lackluster. The tale of Cleopatra has hit the screen in many guises, but none have succeeded as well as Cecil B. DeMille's 1934 film. Here, director Franc Roddam tries once again to tell the story of the exotic queen who won the hearts of both Julius Caesar (Timothy Dalton) and Antony, while reigning over a troubled country. But how do you tell such an epic in a mere 140 minutes? Obviously, much is left out, making this film more worthwhile as a pleasant diversion than a real history lesson. The sets are quite remarkable for a TV movie, but unfortunately the acting and dialogue leave something to be desired. Cleopatra comes across as a bratty child rather than an intelligent and manipulative seductress. Surely this tremendous queen had more going on in her life than her romances with Romans, but you wouldn't know it from this movie. Zane is the best part of the film, although his constant do-good boyishness can be grating. Dalton is adequate as Caesar, although he seems to have a hard time taking the role seriously. Yet, for all its flaws, the action moves swiftly and while the battle scenes may leave you cringing with embarrassment for the director, the rest of this carefully staged piece is beautiful to look at. If you really want to know about the Queen of the Nile, though, you may be better off with A&E's Biography: Cleopatra or the Intimate Portrait: Cleopatra. --Jenny Brown« less
D. Roberts | Battle Creek, Michigan United States | 11/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent, high budget made-for-TV project which ranks up there with "Odysseus," "Merlin," "Joan Of Arc" and "Jason And The Argonauts" in quality. In my mind, it is the most well-done film of them all.The movie concentrates on Cleopatra's rise to power as well as her liasons with Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony. Timothy Dalton, in particular, gives a standout performance as the proud Julius. The sets are lavish and the film is very panoramic. Although not too much of the outside of ancient Rome is seen, the set designers did a superb (not to mention expensive) job of re-creating ancient Alexandria.As with most films which try to cover as much ground as "Cleopatra," there is some fudging of history. For example, Octavion (later to be known as Caesar Augustus) was NOT in Rome prior to the assasination of his uncle. It was not until after the assasination that he stepped inside the walls of Rome (he was named by Julius as his chief heir). The most egregious fudging is a scene in which Octavion is let in on the conspiracy of Brutus & Cassius to assasinate Julius. I do not think this was necessary and most assuredly is not something Octavion would have allowed to happen, had he been aware of the plot. Also, in the struggle for power after the death of Julius, there was (for a short time) a triumverate: Octavion, Mark Anthony (Antonius) and Lepidus. Lepidus is not mentioned and the film leads one to believe the struggle was only between Octavion and Mark Anthony. It may sound as though I'm being nit-picky and intentionally trying to find fault with this movie. I am not. In fact, I can see why they chose to gloss over most of the historical details I mentioned. First of all, if they had chosen to go for veracity as far as Octavion is concerned, they would have had to have gone one of two ways. Either they would have had to add another half hour or so to introduce his character, studying in Appollonia, or they would have had to have seemingly made his character appear "out of the blue" after Caesar's murder. I believe the way they did it was better, for the sake of pragmatism. After all, this movie is supposed to be about Cleopatra, not Octavion. Also, Lepidus was a very minor character & quickly dropped out of the triumverate. He was irrelevant to the "scheme of things" insofar as Octavion & Anthony were concerned. The only issue I take umbrage with is the scene where Octavion is told of the plot to slay Caesar, and does nothing about it. That not only did not happen, it could not have happened, given the closeness he shared with his uncle.The movie does a wonderful job of making allusions to many historical nuances, such as the Lighthouse of Alexandria (one of the 7 Wonders of the World), the library of Alexandria and the Julian Calendar. The film contains a very ambitious staging of the Battle of Actium as well. There is also a wonderful scene in which Mark Anthony holds up the bloodied robes in of Julius at the Caesar's funeral. That is a historical fact & is what drove the masses into a rage (and also drove Brutus and Cassius out of Rome).This is a very tasteful and well done movie. I would highly recommend it to all fans and historians of antiquity. This one is a can't miss. Also, for those who enjoy this project, I would advocate the BBC production of "I, Claudius" starring Derek Jacoby. It picks up about 20 years later and is a wonderful series to be seen in tandem with the present movie."
A diversion: Nothing more; Nothing less
Neal C. Reynolds | Indianapolis, Indiana | 08/09/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"... Timothy Dalton did give an excellant portrayal of Julius Caesar and did his best with the script he had to work from. Billy Zane was better than adequate, but suspect strongly that the women viewers enjoyed his portrayal more than the male viewers did. That's okay, because I enjoyed watching Leonor more than I imagine most women did. LOL I do think she's blamed for a poor performance when the fault was quite likely more with the script than her acting. She's no Elizabeth Taylor or Claudette Colbert, but I thought she was adequate for a TV portrayal. I give this three stars because it didn't strike me as a BAD movie. And for those really devoted to different versions of Cleopatra's life will want it. There's enough sex and violence to titilate those looking for that. However, I believe that most viewers will find either the Elizabeth Taylor or Claudette Colbert versions more worthwhile."
What a shame
wolfen | Great White North | 08/19/2000
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This happens to be one of my favorite times in history, and I have read alot about it. Now, I wasn't going into this movie expecting historical correctness, but neither was I expecting a whiney, bratty Cleopatra either. Timothy Dalton does a passable to good job on his portrayal of Julius Caesar. As does Billy Zane with Marc Antony (historical correctness aside). But I have to draw the line at the absolutely horrid job that was done by Leonor Varela as Cleopatra. I'm not sure if it was the acting, her direction, or the script, but her part in this movie really ruined it for me. Cleopatra was an intelligent, and politically adept woman. Her leadership of Egypt kept them from becoming just another Roman province in a time when the Republic was gobbling up land and peoples as fast as it could march their legions. Quite an amazing feat for a woman in ancient times. Not only did she capture the attention and favor of one powerful Roman general (Caesar), but two (Antony). Was this love? Or was it the maneuvering of a wise leader? Maybe it was both. I read the novel this movie was based on. It was excellent. This movie...was not."
Hallmark Classics does it again ! ! !
Stargazer | Kentucky USA | 12/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to say this would have to be My favorite Hallmark classic with The Oddysey a close second...
Timothy Datlton plays in My oppinion the best Julius Ceaser ever on film. Tough, Hard, War like but diplomatic and fair stratigic witty and powerful, just like the Romans in history were who achieved greatness. Billy Zane plays a near perfect Mark Anthony who was truely loyal to Ceaser till the death, but was afriad to walk in His shoes of greatness knowing he was only just a man, not Ceaser Himself.
Plus, both got to have make out scenes with Leonor Varela which makes them Both pretty lucky in their own right >:)~
Leonor Varela Plays a supurb Cleopatra who is cunning, coniving, and plotting, and also very very crafty with many resources which she uses on film with good talent.
The Hallmark version does an excellent job with entertaining but also teaching a story behind it all, not to mention one of the best old Roman Battle scences with Timothy Dalton defending Egypt. The first time I watched that I had to reverse My dvd a few times just to watch it over again, the battles were awsome =)
I just only wish Hallmark Classic would have a movie/story/documentry as such all dedicated exclusivly about Constantinople but who knows? Hallmark is definatly on a roll!
Glamorized look at Cleopatra VII
pharaoh_kara | ? | 11/27/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As a lover of ancient history, I was excited to watch yet ANOTHER film on the life of Cleopatra. This film is extremely glamourous, and seems as if it follows the script of an ancient soap opera rather than the life of the last queen of ancient Egypt. The filmmakers obviously didn't create this to be a factual account of Cleo's life. The acting by Billy Zane (Antony) and Timothy Dalton (Caesar) was very good, and Lenor Varella (Cleopatra) provides a good show, if you like passion and overdone drama. If you want to see a fictionalized and modern televison view of Cleopatra's life, than this is your movie, but the Cleopatra movie starring Elizabeth Taylor is far superior."