Budding screenwriter, electro/indie music lover, TV watcher, cinema frequenter, living in Sydney, graduated from RMIT, raised in Brisbane born in El Salvador.
Published October 31st 2014
Are you not entertained? If not, see this
The film that pretty much started last decade's resurgence in historic epic films, Gladiator, stands the test of time with an engaging story, thrilling battle sequences, great score and solid performances.
Gladiator film poster
If you're unfamiliar with the plot: when a Roman General (Maximus) is betrayed and his family murdered by the new emperor (Commodus), he is captured and sold to fight as a gladiator where he inevitably finds his way to Rome and finally confronts Commodus.
That's it in a nutshell but we also follow Commodus' (Joaquin Phoenix) rise as emperor and Commodus' sister, Lucilla, (Connie Nielsen) dealing with her creepy brother and his advances on her (yeah, eww). Commodus is a great villain in that he is everything Maximus is not – cowardly, egotistical and a spoiled brat that you love to hate. While Maximus can do no wrong, every choice he makes is the right one, he even makes oppressing people fighting for their freedom look good. In this time of anti-hero stories it is sort of refreshing but then, when you think about it, it's not.
This is a bloody movie – not really gory – but if you're squeamish or under age I'd stay away. Gladiator is most notable for its battle sequences in the Colosseum that hold up as thrilling and tense. Ridley Scott masterfully directs action and drama together making Gladiator an arena spectacular with emotional stakes higher than simply Maximus' life.
The story was written by David Franzoni and screenplay by Franzoni, John Logan (Skyfall) and William Nicholson. The script was plagued with problems on set and apparently Crowe even re-wrote it on the spot. I don't believe they went with his re-write but he did get some lines in there such as "On my signal, unleash hell" and "Strength and honour."
The score is one of the biggest highlights for me, composed by one of the most prolific motion picture composers today, Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard. It is grand, bold and beautifully paints emotion into scenes. I suggest listening to it by itself.
In summary, this is a great film that deserves a re-watch with its historic attention to detail (I mean the sets and props not the story), action-packed battle sequences and complex enough characters. A must-see if you haven't already.