Review Date: May 04, 2000
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: David Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson
Producers: David Franzono, Steven Spielberg, Douglas Wick
Russell Crowe as Maximus
Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus
Connie Nielsen as Lucilla
A highly respected general of the Roman Empire is stripped of his livelihood and family, when the son of the recently deceased Emperor decides that he is a threat to his leadership. Enslaved and forced to join the gladiator circuit and fight for survival, it isn't long before the fallen man discovers a way to return to Rome and face the man who ruined his life.
A sprawling epic set ablaze by massive sets, genuine authenticity, awesome battle sequences and yes, even a good ol' fashioned story dipped in love, power and revenge. And to top it off, this film officially christens Russell Crowe as an all-out "movie star", a man laced with superior acting talent, an impressive body of work and a rugged handsomeness to boot! Having seen him in several interviews, Crowe comes across as the ultimate unpretentious actor, whose down-to-earth manner and subtle charm endears him to most anyone who follows his work. A man's man starring in a film created for men, but ultimately accessible to all. The film's strong points are unquestionably highlighted in its various battle scenes, but don't let it be said that these fights are set adrift in a plot-less movie. In fact, many internal struggles take place in this picture with love, redemption, revenge, honor, tradition, allegiance and blackmail all making personal appearances. For perverts, incest also plays a part in the festivities, albeit a small one, but it is the film's sheer scale which demonstrates its grandest achievement. All we kept thinking about as we walked out of the theatre was how Hollywood has been rebooting crappy TV shows into movies for the past decade now, and no one, and I mean no one, ever thought to bring back the Roman action flicks.
Kudos to Ridley Scott for having the balls to go ahead with it, and further kudos to him for managing to pull it off so magnificently. God knows copycat producers are already developing various incarnations of this film for next summer, but this will surely be the one to remember. You always remember your first. A couple of minor complaints of mine include the so-so showing by Phoenix, who seemed to be "acting" a little too much for my taste, some scenes which dragged on for a few minutes too long, and the general predictability of the story. Of course, none of these minor details made much of a dent in my overall enjoyment of the movie, which was all but certified with a great ending, accentuated by some effective emotional drama. Yes...I even got a little choked up. Of course, you don't have to take my word for it, you can read just about every other review of this film on the Net, the majority of which praise the movie through and through. In the end, you will more than likely get your money's worth on this picture if the story and trailer appeals to you. Now put your hands together and welcome back...the epic motion picture!!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian