Thursday, February 14, 2019

Movie Review: "Gladiator" (2000)

Director: Ridley Scott
Year: 2000
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 35 minutes

A Roman General who was thought to be executed is sold into slavery and battles as a gladiator until he can unleash his revenge on the corrupt emperor Commodus, who murdered his family, killed his friend, and ordered his execution.

Gladiator 2000 movie Russell Crowe Connie Nielsen
"I think you've been afraid all your life." (Image Source)
MASCULINITY!!!!!!!!!!! "Gladiator" is directed by Ridley Scott, who is known for making movies like "Alien," "Blade Runner," and "Thelma & Louise." The screenplay is written by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson. It tells the story of a Roman general from Spain named Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe). Maximum has won many battles for Rome and for Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), who is now very old and close to death. After a victory in Germania, Marcus tells Maximus of his plan to name him caretaker of Rome to transition the empire back to its foundations as a republic. When Marcus's son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) learns of his father's plan, he murders him in cold blood and seizes power for himself. Knowing of Marcus Aurelius's truth, Maximus refuses to swear loyalty to Commodus, who then orders the execution of him and his entire family. Maximus escapes execution and winds up a slave who battles in the gladiator arena where he hopes to fight his way to the Coliseum in Rome to exact revenge on the young emperor.
Gladiator 2000 movie Joaquin Phoenix
"People should know when they're conquered." (Image Source)
If we've learned anything from Oscar-winning historical epics like "Titanic," "Braveheart" and "Gladiator," it's that excitement and drama are much more important than historical accuracy when it comes to making something entertaining and appealing for both audiences and awards voters. This is one of those movies that drips more testosterone than a whole horde of sweaty gladiators fighting for survival. Some people prefer coffee to help them wake up in the morning, but we prefer large muscle-bound men fighting in an arena to the screaming pleasure of a bloodthirsty crowd. Who wouldn't?! As Maximus famously said, "are you not entertained?" Beyond the blood, action, and carnage, director Ridley Scott and his team of writers manage to create a period piece that is relatable to a modern audience and isn't too stuffy. It's a plucky underdog story that taps into American culture by putting an 'everyman' spin on Maximus's quest for revenge while he simultaneously fights for democracy against a tyrannical leader. U-S-A! U-S-A! Oops, nope, that's not right, we mean Max-I-Mus! Max-I-Mus! Some cheesiness and excessive, unnecessary slow motion aside, "Gladiator" has an enjoyable but predictable story anchored by some excellent performances. Though it was Russell Crowe who took home the best actor Oscar award for his role as the titular Gladiator, we think it is Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix as the callous, conniving Commodus who really steals the show. Phoenix has always been an underappreciated actor, and his immense talent is on full display here. What a performance!
Gladiator 2000 movie Ridley Scott
"The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate. It's the sand of the Colosseum." (Image Source)
"Gladiator" was nominated for a whopping 12 Academy Awards. It took home five trophies, including one for best picture. This is an entertaining, bloody, gorgeous looking film with solid performances, impeccable costuming and set design, and terrific cinematography.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.5/10
RT Rating: 76%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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