50 movies set in ancient times

Written by:
June 10, 2021
IMF Internationale Medien und Film Gmbh and Co. 3 Produktions KG

50 movies set in ancient times

The magic of movies lies in their ability to transport you to any world, real or imaginary, for a brief window of time. With our desires as a voyeuristic audience, it’s fascinating to see ancient lands and people replicated to the best of artistic and filmmaking ability on screen and in different genres. While these films may not always be historically accurate representations (many films in ancient worlds feature the fantasy and mythology of the era), and they often take great artistic liberties, it’s still interesting to see artists blend fact and fiction to render time periods such as ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, prehistoric eras, and biblical times. Eras otherwise lost to the sands of time can be resurrected to the big screen.

For this list, Stacker dove into film history and compiled data on 50 films set in ancient times, which spans from the beginning of human history to the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century. The films run the gamut from Oscar-winning dramas to goofy comedies to the first wave of B horror flicks and span countries and decades. To qualify, the movie had to have at least 1,000 votes on IMDb. The list is ordered chronologically. Check out these films if you want to get a (mostly fictionalized) taste of what it was like to live in ancient times.

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1 / 50
Paramount Pictures

Cleopatra (1934)

- Director: Cecil B. DeMille
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 100 minutes

In this Old Hollywood retelling of the story of Cleopatra, the titular queen (played by Claudette Colbert) struggles to retain control of her kingdom while simultaneously wooing and manipulating her two Roman lovers, Marc Antony (Henry Wilcoxon) and Julius Caesar (Warren William). Receiving five Academy Award nominations, it was the first film from director Cecil B. DeMille to garner a nomination for Best Picture.

2 / 50
Paramount Pictures

Samson and Delilah (1949)

- Director: Cecil B. DeMille
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 134 minutes

Depicting the biblical tale of Samson (Victor Mature), the story follows the hero of the Israelites as he meets Delilah (Hedy Lamarr), a Philistine woman who seduces him and then betrays him upon discovering his secret. Another DeMille production, the film was adapted from the biblical Book of Judges. At the 23rd Academy Awards, it won Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.

3 / 50
20th Century Fox

David and Bathsheba (1951)

- Director: Henry King
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 116 minutes

Set in biblical times, this story follows King David during his affair with the beautiful Bathsheba, which threatens his throne in Israel and his favor in the eyes of God. Starring Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward in the titular roles, the film also depicts David’s confrontation with Goliath of Gath, the role of which went to a 6-foot-8-inch-tall Lithuanian wrestler named Walter Talun.

4 / 50
20th Century Fox

The Egyptian (1954)

- Director: Michael Curtiz
- IMDb user rating: 6.5
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 139 minutes

In 18th-dynasty Egypt, a destitute orphan named Sinuhe saves the pharoah's life and becomes a royal healer. Sinuhe’s personal life plays out on screen against the background of the turmoil of the era. The screenplay was based on the novel by Mika Waltari and almost starred Marlon Brando, who dropped out after one rehearsal and was subsequently sued by the studio.

5 / 50
Warner Bros.

Land of the Pharaohs (1955)

- Director: Howard Hawks
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 106 minutes

From director Howard Hawks, this American epic follows Pharaoh Khufu and his second wife Nellifer (played by Jack Hawks and Joan Collins, respectively), and depicts a fictionalized retelling of the construction of the Great Pyramid in ancient Egypt. At the time of its release, a poster tagline highlighted the movie's “cast of 11,500 people” filmed by the “largest location camera crew ever sent abroad from Hollywood!”

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6 / 50
Paramount Pictures

The Ten Commandments (1956)

- Director: Cecil B. DeMille
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 220 minutes

Based on three different novels as well as the Book of Exodus, this epic film dramatizes the biblical story of Moses, who is adopted into Egyptian nobility and later discovers his Jewish heritage and his duty to God. The film, which starred Charlton Heston as Moses, was director Cecil B. DeMille’s last film, and was the most expensive film ever made at the time.

7 / 50
United Artists

Alexander the Great (1956)

- Director: Robert Rossen
- IMDb user rating: 5.8
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 141 minutes

Robert Rossen’s historical drama tells the story of Alexander the Great, the general and king of Macedonia who unified the Greek tribes to defeat the opposing Persian Empire and conquer much of the world. Movie star Charlton Heston was initially sought for the role of Alexander but turned it down, claiming “‘Alexander’ is the easiest kind of picture to make badly.”

8 / 50
Warner Bros.

Ben-Hur (1959)

- Director: William Wyler
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 212 minutes

In ancient Jerusalem, Ben-Hur is forced into slavery by a former friend who has become a Roman tribune. He survives the experience and becomes driven by revenge. The film set a record for Academy Award wins, taking home 11 including Best Picture. Its famous chariot race scene required a total of 15,000 extras and took place on 18 acres of backlot at the studio in Rome.

9 / 50
Bryna Productions

Spartacus (1960)

- Director: Stanley Kubrick
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 197 minutes

Based on the novel of the same name by Howard Fast, this film chronicles the events of the Third Servile War and the life of Thracian Spartacus, who led his fellow slaves to revolt. Starring Kirk Douglas in the eponymous role, the film was controversial in its time for hiring screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who had been blacklisted for being a Communist during the 1940s. However, Douglas insisted Dalton’s role in the production be publicised, effectively breaking the Hollywood blacklist.

10 / 50
Columbia Pictures

Barabbas (1961)

- Director: Richard Fleischer
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 137 minutes

This religious film centers on the thief who was spared crucifixion in place of Jesus Christ. The story follows the life of Barabbas after his escape, including his return to crime and eventual reimprisonment, which leads him to the gladiatorial arena where he is forced to win back his freedom. The film was based on the Nobel Prize-winning novel of the same name by Pär Lagerkvist, first published in 1950.

11 / 50
Cine-Produzioni Associate

The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)

- Director: Sergio Leone
- IMDb user rating: 5.8
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 127 minutes

A fictional account of the island of Rhodes during the late third century, this Italian film tells the story of a war hero on holiday who becomes entangled in two separate plots to overthrow an oppressive king. The film was Spaghetti Western director Sergio Leone’s first directing credit, though he had already worked on other historical films like “Ben-Hur.”

12 / 50
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Atlantis: The Lost Continent (1961)

- Director: George Pal
- IMDb user rating: 5.5
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 90 minutes

The mythic land of Atlantis is set against the backdrop of Ancient Greece in this film, which chronicles the events that led to the fictional continent’s destruction—an evil sorcerer is manipulating the king and enslaving all Atlanteans. To save money, the film used footage from other films, sets from films of different time periods, and costumes from various eras and genres.

13 / 50
20th Century Fox

Cleopatra (1963)

- Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: 60
- Runtime: 192 minutes

This sprawling epic details the life of the legendary Egyptian queen, from her manipulations of both Marc Antony and Julius Caesar to her failure to save the Egyptian empire from falling to Rome. At over three hours in length, the ambitious film had a notoriously troubled production. It ran well over budget, changed actors and locations, and endured set reconstruction, an unfinished script, and a scandal between the film’s stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

14 / 50
Morningside Productions

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

- Director: Don Chaffey
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 104 minutes

In ancient Greece, sailor and adventurer Jason returns to his native Thessaly to claim his rightful throne. But when he arrives, he learns that he must embark on a quest for the magical Golden Fleece, enduring numerous obstacles and terrifying creatures along the way. The film is most notable for its skeleton warrior sequence, which used groundbreaking special effects for its time and took over four months to create.

15 / 50
Paramount Pictures

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)

- Director: Anthony Mann
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 188 minutes

Only loosely based on real history, this film chronicles the fraught relationship between Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus, which led to the collapse of the Roman empire at the hands of the Barbarians. The all-star cast features Alec Guinness, Christopher Plummer, Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, and James Mason. With a budget of $20 million, the film’s commercial failure made it Paramount’s biggest box office bomb of 1964.

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16 / 50
Josef Shaftel Productions Inc.

The Trojan Women (1971)

- Director: Michael Cacoyannis
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 105 minutes

Based on one of a trilogy of plays by ancient Greek tragedian Euripides, this film examines the suffering that resulted from Trojan War; in particular, it follows Queen Hecuba and other women of Troy in the aftermath of their ruined city. The translation of the play that was used in the film was done by Edith Hamilton for a 1938 Broadway premier and was highly acclaimed.

17 / 50
Handmade Films

Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

- Director: Terry Jones
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 94 minutes

In this spoof of epic religious films, comedy troupe Monty Python tells the story of a Jewish-Roman man named Brian Cohen. Born on the same day as Jesus Christ and living right next door, it's inevitable that Brian ends up being mistaken for the messiah. Due to the film’s religious satire, it was considered blasphemous by some groups and was banned across Norway and Ireland, drawing protests even in places like in New York City.

18 / 50
Penthouse Films

Caligula (1979)

- Director: Tinto Brass
- IMDb user rating: 5.3
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 156 minutes

The life of the third Roman emperor Caligula is explored in this historical drama starring Malcolm McDowell, which details the rise and fall of the infamously cruel and decadent ruler. Co-starring Helen Mirren and Peter O’Toole in supporting roles, the erotic film was the first and only feature film to be produced by adult magazine “Penthouse.”

19 / 50
20th Century Fox

History of the World: Part I (1981)

- Director: Mel Brooks
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Metascore: 47
- Runtime: 92 minutes

Through an examination of four different historical periods—the Stone Age, the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, and the French Revolution—director Mel Brooks brings his hilarious brand of comedy to some of history's most important eras. The film was narrated by Orson Welles and features Brooks, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, and Gregory Hines, as well as numerous cameo appearances.

20 / 50
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Clash of the Titans (1981)

- Director: Desmond Davis
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Metascore: 59
- Runtime: 118 minutes

Based loosely on Greek myth, this movie follows Perseus, the son of Zeus, who is destined to marry the beautiful Andromeda. However, before he does that he must first save her from a curse she’s been imprisoned under, battling many monsters along the way. The film was remade in 3D in 2010, and a sequel, “Wrath of the Titans,” was released in 2012.

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21 / 50
Universal Pictures

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

- Director: John Milius
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Metascore: 43
- Runtime: 129 minutes

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as young barbarian warrior Conan, who is orphaned and enslaved as a boy in the prehistoric Hyborian Age. When Conan grows up, he goes off in search of the necromancer who destroyed his village. The film is based on a pulp magazine character created by Robert E. Howard in the 1930s, and the role was Schwarzenegger's breakthrough performance.

22 / 50
Universal Pictures

Conan the Destroyer (1984)

- Director: Richard Fleischer
- IMDb user rating: 5.9
- Metascore: 53
- Runtime: 103 minutes

Arnold Schwarzenegger returns in this sequel as the titular barbarian, who is duped into working for a nefarious queen and must protect the beautiful Princess Jehnna. In the wake of the success of “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial,” the studio thought the film would fare better if it were marketed more toward families, with the violence toned down. In the end, the sequel outgrossed its predecessor, but the family-friendly switch was detrimental to its performance in the United States.

23 / 50
Paramount Pictures

King David (1985)

- Director: Bruce Beresford
- IMDb user rating: 5.3
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 114 minutes

The story of the king of ancient Israel is told in this Biblical epic starring Richard Gere, who plays David as he starts out as a shepherd and uses his intelligence and cues from God to work his way towards nobility. The critical and commercial failure of this film led to a complete scrap of Martin Scorsese’s impending “The Last Temptation of Christ,” though it was later resurrected and recast with Willem Dafoe as Jesus Christ.

24 / 50
Universal Pictures

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 164 minutes

An adaptation of the 1955 novel of the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis, this film depicts the internal struggles of Jesus Christ, from his roots as humble carpenter to understanding his role as the son of God, leading him to act against the Roman occupiers. Controversy over the depiction of Christ in the film led to protests at the time of release from religious groups.

25 / 50
Walt Disney Pictures

Hercules (1997)

- Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 93 minutes

Forced to live on Earth as a half-man, half-god among mortals, young Hercules eventually discovers he was taken as a baby by Hades, god of the underworld. Taking guidance from his father Zeus, Hercules must engage in rites of passage in order to prove himself worthy of ascending to his kind on Mount Olympus. The classic animated Disney musical spurred a stage adaptation in 2019, and a live-action film remake was announced in 2020.

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26 / 50
Dreamworks SKG

The Prince of Egypt (1998)

- Directors: Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, Simon Wells
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 99 minutes

An animated twist on the Book of Exodus, this DreamWorks film follows the life of Egyptian Prince Moses, who discovers he was born a Jewish slave and embarks on a quest to free the Israelites from Egyptian rule. Both “The Prince of Egypt” and “Shrek” were in production at the same time at DreamWorks, and it’s infamously been said that “Egypt” animators were punished for failure by being sent to work on “Shrek.”

27 / 50
Dreamworks LLC & Universal Pictures

Gladiator (2000)

- Director: Ridley Scott
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 155 minutes

The Roman empire plunges into chaos following the death of emperor Marcus Aurelius, as his nefarious son Commodus inherits the throne and plans to execute Maximus, the emperor’s trusted advisor and general. Maximus manages to escape, but then he becomes a gladiator and is forced to battle to the death. Starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, the film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won five, including Best Actor and Supporting Actor and Best Picture.

28 / 50
Universal Pictures

The Scorpion King (2002)

- Director: Chuck Russell
- IMDb user rating: 5.5
- Metascore: 45
- Runtime: 92 minutes

In an Egypt before pyramids, peasant Mathayust is tasked with exacting revenge on an evil ruler and a sorceress who are set on laying waste to the local tribes. The film is a spin-off of “The Mummy” franchise and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character from “The Mummy Returns.” Its success sparked a series of “Scorpion King” films.

29 / 50

Hero (2002)

- Director: Yimou Zhang
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 120 minutes

During the Warring States period of ancient China, a nameless warrior recounts his killing of three dangerous assassins to the king of Qin. Each assassin had once threatened the king’s life. Though the film was released in Asia in 2002, the studio waited two years to release it in the United States due to hesitance over the film's potential performance. However, help from filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino allowed the film to get a U.S. release in 2004, and it performed so well that to date it is the country's third highest-grossing foreign film.

30 / 50
IMF Internationale Medien und Film Gmbh and Co. 3 Produktions KG

Alexander (2004)

- Director: Oliver Stone
- IMDb user rating: 5.6
- Metascore: 39
- Runtime: 175 minutes

Based on the life of Alexander the Great, this film follows the Ancient Macedonian general's rise to power from childhood to unrelenting conqueror, chronicling the growth of his empire and its eventual decline. Starring Colin Farrell in the title role, the film was a widely panned box office bomb, but four different cuts have since been released, and they're seen as improvements on the theatrical version.

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31 / 50
Warner Bros.

Troy (2004)

- Director: Wolfgang Petersen
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 56
- Runtime: 163 minutes

This epic film, based on Homer’s “Iliad,” depicts the battle between ancient Troy and Sparta, condensing the book's decades-long conflict into a couple of weeks. The film received a Best Costume Design nomination at the 77th Academy Awards, and its cast includes Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Diane Kruger, Brian Cox, and Sean Bean.

32 / 50
Twentieth Century Fox

The Passion of the Christ (2004)

- Director: Mel Gibson
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 47
- Runtime: 127 minutes

Mel Gibson’s controversial adaptation of the story of the “Passion of Jesus” follows the messiah in his final 12 hours of life, including flashbacks to parts of his life that are biblically based and some that are creatively inspired. For historical accuracy, the characters speak entirely in Hebrew, Latin, and reconstructed Aramaic. The film was polarizing to critics due to its depictions of extreme violence.

33 / 50
Touchstone Pictures

Apocalypto (2006)

- Director: Mel Gibson
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 139 minutes

As Mayan civilization begins to decline, a peaceful tribesman and his village are captured by an invading force. Intended for a ritual sacrifice in a vast Mayan city full of death and decay, the tribesman must find a way to escape with his pregnant wife and child. As with Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” the language spoken in the film is an approximation of Indigenous Yucatec Mayan, the ancient Mayan language spoken during the era.

34 / 50
Warner Bros.

300 (2006)

- Director: Zack Snyder
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: 52
- Runtime: 117 minutes

Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, the story of “300” is loosely based on the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. between the Persian and Spartan army—the latter of which, led by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler in the film), is vastly outnumbered. To recreate the imagery of the comic series, the film was entirely shot with a technique called a super-imposition chroma key.

35 / 50
Beijing Film Studio

Red Cliff (2008)

- Director: John Woo
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 148 minutes

This Chinese war epic depicts the Battle of Red Cliffs at the end of the Han dynasty, just before the Three Kingdoms period in imperial China. Prime Minister Cao Cao has convinced Emperor Han that in order to unite all of China, war must be waged on the kingdoms in the west and the south—two regions with an alliance. The film in its entirety is over four hours in length and was released in two parts theatrically in China. An abridged, 148-minute version was released internationally.

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36 / 50
Warner Bros.

10,000 BC (2008)

- Director: Roland Emmerich
- IMDb user rating: 5.1
- Metascore: 34
- Runtime: 109 minutes

Set in the prehistoric era, this film follows a tribe of mammoth hunters as one young man travels through uncharted territory to save his tribe. The CGI depictions of wooly mammoths were based on elephants and fossils of ancient mammoths, while the rendering of the saber-toothed cat drew reference from tigers and the tiger/lion hybrid, the liger.

37 / 50
Telecinco Cinema

Agora (2009)

- Director: Alejandro Amenábar
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 55
- Runtime: 127 minutes

This film is a biopic of Hypatia, a late fourth-century mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher in Roman Egypt. Hypatia, played by Rachel Weisz, struggles with the turmoil and social unrest in her land and the advances of multiple lovestruck men, including her own slave. Director Alejandro Amenábar originally wanted Sacha Baron Cohen to join the film, but the actor turned down the part after reading the screenplay and deciding it was “too prickly.”

38 / 50
Beijing Film Studio

Red Cliff II (2009)

- Director: John Woo
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 142 minutes

The second part of John Woo’s four-hour-long historical epic depicts the continuing Battle of Red Cliff. With the unlikely alliance between the west and south kingdoms splintering, and the forces of Prime Minister Cao Cao largely outnumbering them, survival is uncertain. The Red Cliff saga marked director John Woo’s first Chinese film since “Hard Boiled” in 1992.

39 / 50
Columbia Pictures

Year One (2009)

- Director: Harold Ramis
- IMDb user rating: 4.9
- Metascore: 34
- Runtime: 97 minutes

Two exiled Neanderthals leave their village, embarking on a journey across the ancient world that brings them into contact with many important biblical figures. Starring Jack Black and Michael Cera, the comedy film features appearances from Olivia Wilde, David Cross, Paul Rudd, Hank Azaria, and Bill Hader, among others.

40 / 50
Dadi Century

Confucius (2010)

- Director: Mei Hu
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 125 minutes

A bio-drama examining the eponymous Chinese philosopher, this film charts the life of Confucius beginning in 500 B.C., when he goes from a revered commoner to Minister of Law in the Kingdom of Lu, eventually leading the nation’s army against a threat of annihilation. There was a mixed reaction in China when the project was announced, since lead actor Chow Yun-Fat speaks Cantonese, and the film was made in Mandarin.

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41 / 50

Centurion (2010)

- Director: Neil Marshall
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 97 minutes

Set in ancient Scotland, this British film is loosely based on the legendary vanishing of the Roman Empire's Ninth Legion in Caledonia. The movie depicts a liberated Roman officer named Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender), who is freed from his Pict captors and joins the Roman pursuit of the Pict leader. The Pict people in the film speak Scots Gaelic, since there is no written account of the Pictish language in existence.

42 / 50
War of the Gods LLC

Immortals (2011)

- Director: Tarsem Singh
- IMDb user rating: 6.0
- Metascore: 46
- Runtime: 110 minutes

A mortal man named Theseus (Henry Cavill) is told by a Sibylline Oracle that he is the only one who can defeat the ruthless King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), whose bloodthirsty army rampages across ancient Greece in the search for the lost Epirus Bow. Loosely based on the Greek myths of Theseus, the Minotaur, and the Titanomachy, the film also stars Stephen Dorff, Luke Evans, John Hurt, Kellan Lutz, and Freida Pinto.

43 / 50
Focus Features

The Eagle (2011)

- Director: Kevin Macdonald
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Metascore: 55
- Runtime: 114 minutes

Another adaptation of the disappearance of the Roman Empire's Ninth Legion, this story follows the son of one of the legion’s lost men, who journeys to Scotland from Rome 20 years after his father's disappearance to retrieve the hallowed eagle emblem once carried by the legion. The film was based on the historical adventure novel “The Eagle of the Ninth” by Rosemary Sutcliff, and its cast includes Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, and Mark Strong.

44 / 50
Warner Bros. Entertainment

Wrath of the Titans (2012)

- Director: Jonathan Liebesman
- IMDb user rating: 5.7
- Metascore: 37
- Runtime: 99 minutes

This sequel to 2010’s “Clash of the Titans” starts 10 years after Perseus’s defeat of the dreaded Kraken, finding the son of Zeus attempting to live a quiet life as a fisherman. Humanity’s devotion to the gods of Mount Olympus has waned, and the gods are losing control of the Titans. Perseus is soon tasked with saving Zeus and all of mankind. A third film, titled “Revenge of the Titans,” was planned for 2013, but too few script ideas combined with the negative critical reception of the first two movies led the film to be shelved.

45 / 50
Twentieth Century Fox

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

- Director: Ridley Scott
- IMDb user rating: 6.0
- Metascore: 52
- Runtime: 150 minutes

“Alien” and “Blade Runner” director Ridley Scott tackles the Book of Exodus, depicting Moses (Christian Bale) leading the 40,000 Hebrew slaves to freedom from Egypt and the Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton). The film received criticism upon release for casting white actors in roles of Middle Easterners, with actors of color largely relegated to playing parts of servitude or villainy.

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46 / 50
Paramount Pictures

Noah (2014)

- Director: Darren Aronofsky
- IMDb user rating: 5.7
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 138 minutes

Darren Aronofsky’s adaptation of the biblical story of Noah sees Russell Crowe in the titular role, a man who is chosen by God for the task of building a giant ark for himself, his family, and breeding pairs of every animal on earth. Upon release, the film generated controversy among religious groups and was banned in several countries for its depiction of Noah.

47 / 50
Constantin Film International GmbH

Pompeii (2014)

- Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
- IMDb user rating: 5.5
- Metascore: 39
- Runtime: 105 minutes

Slave-turned-gladiator Milo (Kit Harington) finds himself in a race against time as Mount Vesuvius erupts and he must rush to save the love of his life—both from the lava and from the Roman Senator to whom she is unwillingly betrothed. The film is a fictionalized depiction of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that wiped out the Roman city of Pompeii in 79 A.D.

48 / 50
Warner Bros.

300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

- Director: Noam Murro
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Metascore: 48
- Runtime: 102 minutes

The events in this sequel take place before, during, and after those of the first film: Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) must unite Greece to save its people from the forces of Persia, including the ruthless commander Artemisia (Eva Green) and the Persian god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Zack Snyder did not return to direct this installment, though he did act as co-producer and co-writer. Snyder had a third film in the works that was ultimately dropped by Warner Brothers when the script did not end up aligning with the franchise.

49 / 50
Summit Entertainment LLC

Gods of Egypt (2016)

- Director: Alex Proyas
- IMDb user rating: 5.4
- Metascore: 25
- Runtime: 127 minutes

Based on the deities of ancient Egypt, this film centers on the god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who aligns himself with a mortal thief when the god of darkness Set (Gerard Butler) usurps the Egyptian throne. The two go on a quest to save the mortal’s true love and the world. “God of Egypt” sparked backlash due to its predominantly white cast in the roles of Egyptian deities, and the director publicly apologized for the inaccurate casting.

50 / 50
Studiocanal S.A.S.

Early Man (2018)

- Director: Nick Park
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 89 minutes

This stop-motion film from British studio Aardman Animations follows a caveman named Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his sidekick Hogknob (Nick Park), who must unite their tribe against the threat of having their land taken from them by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) by challenging him to a game of football. The film won a British Independent Film Award for Best Effects.

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