Film: Gladiator (2000)

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Film:

Gladiator

Director: Ridley Scott
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Sony Pictures (DVD First-Order)

A big-budget summer epic with money to burn and a scale worthy of its golden Hollywood predecessors, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is a rousing, grisly, action-packed epic that takes moviemaking back to the Roman Empire via computer-generated visual effects. While not as fluid as the computer work done for, say, Titanic, it’s an impressive achievement that will leave you marveling at the glory that was Rome, when you’re not marveling at the glory that is Russell Crowe. Starring as the heroic general Maximus, Crowe firmly cements his star status both in…

Reviews

Amazon.com

A big-budget summer epic with money to burn and a scale worthy of its golden Hollywood predecessors, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is a rousing, grisly, action-packed epic that takes moviemaking back to the Roman Empire via computer-generated visual effects. While not as fluid as the computer work done for, say, Titanic, it’s an impressive achievement that will leave you marveling at the glory that was Rome, when you’re not marveling at the glory that is Russell Crowe. Starring as the heroic general Maximus, Crowe firmly cements his star status both in terms of screen presence and acting chops, carrying the film on his decidedly non-computer-generated shoulders as he goes from brave general to wounded fugitive to stoic slave to gladiator hero. Gladiator’s plot is a whirlwind of faux-Shakespearean machinations of death, betrayal, power plays, and secret identities (with lots of faux-Shakespearean dialogue ladled on to keep the proceedings appropriately “classical”), but it’s all briskly shot, edited, and paced with a contemporary sensibility. Even the action scenes, somewhat muted but graphic in terms of implied violence and liberal bloodletting, are shot with a veracity that brings to mind—believe it or not—Saving Private Ryan, even if everyone is wearing a toga. As Crowe’s nemesis, the evil emperor Commodus, Joaquin Phoenix chews scenery with authority, whether he’s damning Maximus’s popularity with the Roman mobs or lusting after his sister Lucilla (beautiful but distant Connie Nielsen); Oliver Reed, in his last role, hits the perfect notes of camp and gravitas as the slave owner who rescues Maximus from death and turns him into a coliseum star. Director Scott’s visual flair is abundantly in evidence, with breathtaking shots and beautiful (albeit digital) landscapes, but it’s Crowe’s star power that will keep you in thrall—he’s a true gladiator, worthy of his legendary status. Hail the conquering hero! —Mark Englehart

Barnes and Noble

Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) vividly recreates the waning days of the Roman Empire in this lavishly mounted epic directed in the grand manner of sword-and-sandal sagas such as Ben Hur and Spartacus. Gladiators’ sweeping narrative focuses on battle-weary Roman general Maximus (Russell Crowe), bent on returning to his family despite the urgings of aging emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) to remain in Rome’s service. After his wife and son are executed by the ruthless Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), who has also murdered Marcus and seized power, the recently enslaved Maximus becomes the empire’s most celebrated gladiator—and waits for an opportunity to avenge himself on the deranged usurper. Crowe’s sullen demeanor and massive physique perfectly suit him to play this brooding, taciturn warrior, and Phoenix (equally convincing as the spoiled, petulant young tyrant), Harris, Connie Nielsen,and the late Oliver Reed provide able support. Richly atmospheric, Gladiator is shrouded in muted colors and dark tones, but Scott’s penchant for moody lighting doesn’t inhibit the film’s dynamism at all. The brutal, chaotic battle scenes that regularly punctuate the episodic plot are truly spectacular. Ed Hulse

Related Works

Album:Gladiator: Music from the Motion Picture

Gladiator: Music from the Motion Picture

Hans Zimmer, Lisa Gerrard

Most modern Hollywood films have musical “temp tracks” laid in as they’re edited, usually classical standards or music from other soundtracks that helps shape the dramatic and emotional intentions of works in progress. Sometimes these temp tracks become the score (as in “2001”), but more often they serve as a template for the film’s eventual scorer. That said, we’ll boldly climb out on a limb and opine that director Ridley Scott was listening to a whole lot of Holst’s The Planets as he was cobbling together his modern gladiator epic. Credit Hans Zimmer for…

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