Monday, April 29, 2013

947. GLADIATOR (2000)

Running Time: 155 minutes
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: David Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson
Main Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi
Click here to view the trailer


I'm watching things from the new side slightly out of order because my wife and I happened to both be off today and she wanted to watch this with me. I'd only seen "Gladiator" once before and I've never been as gaga over it as others apparently are. This viewing didn't do much to change that either.

The plot revolves entirely around Maximus Decimus Meridius (Crowe), a Roman general, who pledges his allegiance to Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), emperor of Rome. The film opens during the end of Rome's war with the barbarians, at Vindobona. Maximus successfully leads his men against the barbarians, with his famous battle cry to "unleash hell". Following the battle, Maximus has only one goal: to go home to his family (wife and son) and his farm and live a peaceful life. Before being granting his release, Marcus Aurelius tells Maximus that he's the son he never had and asks Maximus to take the throne when he relinquishes it. Maximus is hesitant, but it doesn't matter because when Aurelius breaks the news to his son, Commodus (Phoenix), he is so upset that he kills his father and assumes the throne. Having knowledge of his father's plans to appoint Maximus as new emperor, Commodus has Maximus removed from the city and killed. However, Maximus gets away, but not without injury. He rides toward home, but when he gets there he finds his family murdered. He is then captured and sold to a gladiator trainer, where he must fight for his life in dingy arenas, alongside other slaves and makeshift warriors. When Commodus announces his intention to hold gladiator games, Maximus sees his chance at revenge, realizing that his chance to come face to face with the man responsible for his family's murder is upon him.


You know, I really wanted to like this movie. With yesterday's glowing review and 100% acceptance of another epic, action-adventure movie ("Apocalypto"), I thought that maybe "Gladiator" had a chance to get into my good graces. I won't totally bash it, because there are aspects of it that were quite good. Mostly the aesthetical elements: set pieces, costumes, glorious camerawork. Furthermore, you also have Joaquin Phoenix in their pouring his heart out and further making a name for himself and the supporting cast was all fine too, I guess. However, the majority of this review will probably be a negative one, so if you're a fan, it's nothing personal. 

For starters, I hate Russell Crowe. I just don't see talent in him and any movie of his that I have liked, it's most likely not been because of him. Okay, maybe "hate" is a strong word, but I just don't care for the guy. In "Gladiator" there were far too many cheesecake shots of him and at times, the film came off simply as fodder for the women in the audience; giving them something to gawk at and dream about. Also, he just has this air of cockiness about him, that just isn't appealing. My other major criticism is the extreme length and lack of story to back up such an extended running time. You've got a movie that's twenty minutes shy of being three hours and what have you got: Maximus is general, Maximus is exiled, Maximus is gladiator, Maximus is vengeful, Maximus is dead. The end. When you hand me a film called "Gladiator", I expect there to be a prevalent use of battle scenes, and while there was, I think the feeble story really bogged them down and ultimately buried them. Speaking of the gladiator/battle scenes, those were good too and the sight of the Roman Coliseum, filled with spectators was a nice sight to behold.

Ultimately, this is yet another film to add to the "not for me" pile. If you're a fan, I have nothing against your opinion and honestly, I can understand why this film has so many fans. It's something that IS going to appeal to the majority of audiences. However, it didn't work for me. At times, it just came off as a desperate attempt to create a "Spartacus" for the 21st Century and we all know how I felt about that movie. If you're not into this kind of thing, but trying to watch it anyway (perhaps, for you BOOK doers), then drink a few Red Bull's beforehand, because "Gladiator" has that unique ability to bore it's unwilling viewers into the lulls of sleep.

RATING: 5.5/10  Like I said, not all bad and if you're a lover of great visuals, then you'll go ape for this. If you like good stories and movies that DON'T make you snooze, then take a pass.


April 29, 2013  3:17pm


  1. I did actually go and see this at the cinema when it came out. It didn't look my sort of thing, but encouraged by a friend, fellow history buff, who's speciality is the Roman period, I gave it ago.
    It was.. ok. Quite spectacular, I guess, but as for a story and a film.. a tad obvious and .. well, just too big and shouty for my taste. Pretty much as you said.. just an excuse for lots of macho posing and 'look at me'.. with large chunks of 'look what we can do with a computer' Since the first viewing, whenever I have seen bits of it on TV, my opinion has gone down even further as i saw just how empty it was'' all show, no content.. sorry any fans,but it's now just boring.
    I also have.. problems.. with Crowe, for very much the same sorts of reasons.
    With one noteable exception.. I thought he was good in 'LA Confidential'. I didn't see 'Robin Hood', but i did see clips and thought it, and crowe, looked rubbish. I don't know if people in the US heard much about the accent row.. An interviewer commented that the accent was much more Irish than English Midlands, and crow got quite abusive. Well, for my twopenneth', from someone born and brought up in Derby, just 15 or 20 miles from Nottingham..He was decidedly sounding very Northern Irish.

    1. Glad someone agrees with me about "Gladiator". I thought the whole world, save for me, liked it.


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