Review of 'Gladiator'

gladiator.jpg Maximus (Russell Crowe) is a successful general in the height of the Roman empire and much loved by the ageing Emperor, Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris). Before his death the Emperor agrees to allow Maximus to return to his family but before this wish can be carried out the Emperor is killed by his ambitious son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) who has no love for the lauded general. Fleeing for his life Maximus is captured by slave traders who sell him to Proximo (Oliver Reed), head of a Gladiator school who quickly learns of Maximus' talent as a fighter in the ring. Commodus, now Emperor, is hosting games in Rome where only the best Gladiator's can compete…

This was a huge film when it was released in 2000 with it's much discussed special effects that stunningly recreate Rome of the second century. In this it truly succeeds with the CGI-augmented visuals of Rome, and particularly the Colosseum, impressive indeed. Looking beyond this, it is a tale of ambition, tragedy, and revenge. Phoenix portrays a typical baddie but one who's ambitions do not make him stupid therefore a perfect foil to the perfection of Crowe's Maximus who, of course, shows far more depth to his character. This is the film's largest flaw in that it is really only ever about one person Maximus with all others playing simply supporting roles with little more to say about them. Even the other slaves go from enemies to friends in the blink of an eye as they fall victim to Maximus' charisma. Having said that, Crowe does do a good job at portraying the brooding, troubled gladiator who seeks only the death of the one who brought tragedy into his life. Another character pastiche. The film pretends to be larger than it is with extravagant, pretentious dialog but in the end it all boils down to petty revenge with even the ending leaving little to redeem it (though I did find the ending a slightly brave decision on behalf of the film-makers – it is not quite what you might think).

Sadly, at the end of the day, this has about as much depth as Ghostbusters but, having said that, it looks great and if you love action, blood and testosterone this is the one for you. Turn your mind off and tune in to the biggest “swords and sandals” epics of modern time.

Looks great, less filling.

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2019-07-06

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Studio: Dreamworks

Year: 2000

Length: 155 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by Ridley Scott: