Sunday, August 21, 2016


Movie Name: Gladiator
Year of Release: 2000
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Spencer Treat Clark, Tomas Arana, Ralf Moeller, David Hemmings, Tommy Flanagan
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Ridley Scott had a patchy 90s decade. He started with the great "Thelma and Louise", but faltered for the rest of the decade, culminating in the disappointing "GI Jane", which had a terrible critical reception. "Gladiator" was a huge comeback for the director, placing him in the running for the Oscars, eventually winning for best picture and best actor, amongst others. The film follows the story of General Maximus Decimus Meridias who is named keeper of Rome and its empire by dying emperor Marcus Aurelius. Marcus' son, Commodus, has other ideas, and sets events in motion that result in the death of Maximus' family and himself taken into slavery and trained as a gladiator. Soon Maximus and his fellow gladiators are called to Rome to participate in a marathon of gladiator games held at the behest of the new emperor. Once in Rome, Maximus is soon involved in a plot to overthrow the emperor with his former-love Lucilla, Commodus' sister.
"Gladiator" is a film that by all accounts, tries to modernize the classic sword and sandal films that were so popular in Hollywood in the 50s and 60s (made popular by films such as William Wyler's "Ben Hur", Stanley Kubrick's "Spartacus" and Mervyn LeRoy's "Quo Vadis", to name but a few). Using fantastic special effects and a talented cast, particularly Russel Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, Ridley Scott is successful in bringing the ancient Rome to life, with enough grittiness and drama that makes the story compelling and always watchable. It's a testament to the director's vision, that he manages to maintain the action set pieces and the more intimate dramatic elements in a balance that makes the film simultaneously entertaining and affecting. The cinematography from John Mathieson is stunning, as is the score from Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer. A good film always worth watching.