Gladiator [Film Review]

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down? Simple, spoiler free movie reviews.

gladiator_ver1Maximus, a Roman general, loved by the people was chosen by ageing Emperor, Marcus Aurelius before his death to be his heir over his own son, Commodus. In the resulting power struggle  Maximus and his family condemned to death. Unable to save his family, he is captured and put into the Gladiator games. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top and seek revenge.

Gladiator is an epic historical drama film released in 2000 directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix. Crowe portrays the fictional character, Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed when Commodus (Pheonix), murders his father and seizes the throne.

Gladiator is one of my favourite movies of all time. It’s rather apt that I would consider a historical epic so, well epic. It’s just an awesome film. The opening battle is on such a huge scale it’s incredible. This film was so succesful and well recieved that it spawned a rival for the historical epic genre with films such as Troy, King Arthur, Alexander, 300, Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood following in it’s footsteps. But none of them have come close to doing it as well as this one, including the latter two which were both directed by Scott himself.

The cinematography from Ridley Scott is outstanding, he’s had a weird career,a lot of hits and a lot of misses, but this is one that he nailed perfectly. It’s visually thrilling and emotionally engaging. However the true reason behind Gladiator’s greatness is Russell Crowe’s performance in the lead role. He is simply perfect in this movie. It’s not just Crowe who puts on an excellent performance either. Pheonix, amongst others, is great too and he to have a real chemistry with Crowe in each of their scenes.

The music is incredible as well through out, I can’t say I’m surprised though as it was written by Hans Zimmer who is always great.

Something I really appreciate about Gladiator is it’s minimal use of CGI. It’s obviously going to be used in some scenes, specifically showing Rome but you never feel like it’s over used. Instead they use sets, rather than green screen for much of the film. Including a one third replica of the Rome Colosseum, the rest was added digitally but it gave the actors something real to work in front of. I used the same argument for why Star Wars Episode Seven was so much better than Episode One, which came out a year earlier in 1999. Instead of having a fake shimmer and awkward positioning they use real people, real sets and get real reactions. It adds to the film ten fold, rather than taking away.

If, somehow you haven’t seen this movie, I implore you to watch it. It’s well worth your time.

Verdict: Thumbs Up

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