Historic events have proven notoriously difficult to transfer to the screen, and despite dazzling camera work, director Ridley Scott has little luck with the story of Columbus (Gerard Depardieu). The script follows along the line of the familiar narrative, as the explorer beseeches Queen Isabella (Sigourney Weaver) for funds to sail to India, yet finds himself instead in the New World. The filmmakers manage to render dramatic events -- Columbus' desperate search for funding and a harsh voyage to a mysterious destination -- inexplicably boring. Scott has chosen to dwell on the navigator's relations with the indigenous people and their eventual subjugation to Spanish rule as a more compelling subject; one that seems somewhat beside the point. The decision to allow Depardieu to use his often indecipherable French-accented English rather than use subtitles might have been reconsidered. Nevertheless, as always, Scott fills the screen with unforgettably ravishing images, none more so than that of Columbus' first fog-enshrouded vision of the New World.
by Michael Costello review