WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A decorated general, Maximus (Russell Crowe), after a triumphant defeat of the savage barbarians of Germania, learns that the Roman Emperor (Richard Harris) is dying. The Emperor has decided to bestow ruling power upon him and not his legitimate son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Shortly after, the prodigal son organizes a coup, seizing the reigns of power and destroying Maximusí life, who has now been condemned to slavery. He must now find a way to avenge his familyís murder while trying to survive as a gladiator.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Easily one of the best films of the year. This a superb period piece which presents itself on an epic scale, mesmerizing you with incredible, elaborate sets. Itís about time someone resurrects the old fashioned epic film experience! The Roman coliseum, its bloodthirsty crowd and heroic warriors come to life in a feast for the eyes. What truly distinguishes this film from other FX blockbusters is its powerfully engaging story about a man whose life is suddenly taken away from him. Crowe radiates sadness and melancholy, only to somehow heroically rise from the drudgery of slavery. Youíll feel for him and his seemingly unbearable sorrow. Watch as his anger and fury consume him in the arena, he kicks ass all over the place! Kudos to Phoenix too as he plays the loathsome, cowardly son very well. I absolutely loved the many battle sequences which exhibited unbelievable choreography and realism. Ridley Scott committed himself to a seemingly impossible task and came through with flying colours. Entertaining, dramatic and chock full of action, this is a great movie which should not be missed.
The second disc in this release houses all of the extras, and believe me, there are plenty of them. The first is a "Making of Gladiator" documentary (25 minutes) which does a superb job of shedding light on how much work actually went into making this movie. It showcases interviews with members of the crew, cool split screen FX explanations and costume and make up details. Youíll also get brief glimpses at Russell Crowe the comedian, as he jokes about working with live tigers for one key scene. The DVD gives no less than 12 deleted scenes (in rough form) complete with optional commentary from Scott. One in particular, "The Treasure Chest", is a 7 minute montage of unused footage and shots set to the movieís score, which is really worth a look. "Gladiator Games: Roman Blood Sport" is a 50 minute documentary on the origins behind the thirst for blood and violence in ancient Roman culture. Splicing movie footage and historical documents, youíll marvel at how gory many of the combats actually were. Nasty stuff.
"Hans Zimmer: Composing Gladiator: is a 20 minute introspective into how the moving score came to life. "My Gladiator Journal" written by actor Spencer Treat Clark provides pictures and descriptions from the boy who would play the Emperorís nephew in the movie. Itís a cool insiderís look behind the scenes. Also included are extensive storyboards, still photographs, as well as trailers (2) and TV commercials (4). To round things off, you get decent production notes and biographies of cast and crew. The menus feature animated skyline shots accompanied by the movieís soundtrack.
When you package a great movie with a load of worthwhile, interesting extras, you know youíve got a winner on your hands. I canít help but sing the praises of its perfect video and booming audio, theyíre just that damn good. Donít walk, RUN to your local retailer and be sure to pick up this release, you wonít be disappointed. Gladiator is a must have DVD for movie fans and DVD collectors alike.