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In 1963, this colossal and opulent $60 million spectacular was epic in every sense of the word -- an epic investment, an epic in the annals of Hollywood gossip, and, ultimately, an epic flop that nearly dragged 20th Century Fox down the Nile along with Cleopatra's barge. Handsomely mounted by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who replaced Rouben Mamoulian as director after six days of shooting), the drama follows the eighteen tumultuous years that led to the founding of the Roman Empire. Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) meets up with Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) and plans to lure Caesar to her boudoir in… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 48%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Taylor inhabits the role with a focussed but uninhibited imperiousness, as when she turns Cleopatra's entrance into Rome, aboard a giant rolling sphinx, into the ultimate red-carpet photo op."
‑ Richard Brody, New Yorker
"[A] general muddle."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"The film has a spectacular variety of liabilities (and, to be fair, strengths as well), but the most visible and crushing is that's an utter dud as a star vehicle."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"The film at least manages to make some sense of an extraordinary moment in history, as Rome expanded from republic to empire."
‑ Adrian Turner, Radio Times
"Much maligned for various reasons, this Cleopatra may be the most expensive movie ever made, but certainly not the worst, just a verbose, muddled affair that is not even entertaining as a star vehicle for Taylor and Burton."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for good and ill."
‑ Trevor Johnston, Time Out
"Cleopatra is not only a supercolossal eye-filler (the unprecedented budget shows in the physical opulence throughout), but it is also a remarkably literate cinematic recreation of an historic epoch."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"A lumbering monstrosity of a movie with all manner of preposterous hairstyles and improbable fashions. Worth seeing -- once anyway -- at least as wayward legend."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"A stately but sometimes mindboggling spectacle."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
"For four hours this moody, glossy pantomime leadenly plods on, saying much more about the hubris and excess of old-time Hollywood thinking than the burnished glories of an ancient world."
‑ Ian Nathan, Empire Magazine
"Sad to say, however, the deep-revolving, witty Mankiewicz fails most where most he hoped to succeed. As drama and as cinema, Cleopatra is raddled with flaws. It lacks style both in image and in action."
‑ , TIME Magazine
"Harrison, doing his waspish don act as Caesar, alone rises above mediocrity."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Though it owes as much to Shakespeare's interpretation and to Roman propaganda as to the historical record, this interpretation of the great queen's life succeeds in conveying something of the intelligence and force of personality her opponents feared."
‑ Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
"Melodramatic, and camp as Christmas, but nothing like the disaster its reputation suggests."
‑ Matthew Thrift, Little White Lies
"A giant of a movie that is sometimes lumbering, but ever watchable thanks to its uninhibited ambition, size and glamour."
‑ Billy Mowbray, Film4
More reviews for Cleopatra on Rotten Tomatoes