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Luckily, in Ridley Scott's case, Russel Crowe is so captivating and convincing as a general loved by his troops and as a slave loved by the people that the movie really works. Possibly one of the greatest actors today, Crowe carries this epic film on his very capable shoulders.
Not to say that he is the only reason this works. The supporting cast, most notably Connie Neilsen, buoy the film to new perspectives.
Jacquin Phoenix definitely captures the egotisitcal persona he should display, stealing every scene he's in. Phoenix will surely be put on the map with Gladiator.
But the real shining star in this film are the incredible action sequences which jolt the viewer right in with the opening sequences, as Maximus' true worth to the Roman Empire is displayed. Scott's camera work within these completed sequences takes a modern twist that really works for the gruesome scenes.
Crowe will now get the respect he deserves for this collosal performance. Gladiator makes the most of its 2 and a half hours, marking a triumphant comeback for the long forgotten epics of the classic days of film. ALL HAIL MAXIMUS!
The acting in the movie more than lives up to expectations. Russell Crowe is brilliant in his role as Maximus, the "general who became a slave, who became a gladiator, who defied an emperor." Crowe's intense style is perfect for the relentless determination and confidence of Maximus. Joaquin Phoenix is equally wonderful in his role as Commodus, the corrupt emperor. He plays a great villain because he is able to give Commodus depth by showing certain vulnerable or fragile sides, while at the same time instantly transforming to let the ruthless nature of his volatile character shine. It also helps that Joaquin has the classic Caesar look that works perfectly with his role.
Connie Nielsen is also very good as Lucilla. However, perhaps the two finest performances in the movie were given by a couple of acting veterans in supporting roles. Richard Harris and Oliver Reed were exceptional in what will be remembered as crowning achievements at the end of their careers. Harris was perfect as Marcus Aurelius, the aging Caesar who reflects upon his life and contemplates how the world will remember him. And Reed, especially, gave my personal favorite performance in the movie as Proximo, the trainer for the gladiators. The way he spoke about the life of a gladiator, the splendor of Rome, and the "thrill of the Coliseum" really added excitement and anticipation during the viewing of the movie.
Gladiator is filled with many memorable moments that one would need to see more than once to fully appreciate. The excitement felt for me when Rome is first shown in all its wonder and marvel is my favorite scene. But the whole movie is a rush! Hans Zimmer provides the absolute perfect score to capture the different moods in the movie. Ridley Scott sets the perfect tone with his artistic and creative directing. I would recommend it to anyone who can stomach intensity and enjoy an epic story for the ages. Next to Braveheart, this movie is the greatest of all-time!
I am mostly compelled with the beautiful script which in a way reminds me of poetry, though it is still everyday language. I love the acting portrayed by the late Oliver Reed and also Richard Harris. Russell Crowe, Djimon Housou and Joaquin Phoenix are also superb and the parts suit them perfectly. There are also a number of less "popular" artists who also deserve a big "bravo". Amongst them I have to mention ex-Mr Universe Ralph Moeller who is mostly used as the comic relief of the movie. In Gladiator we can also the beautiful and popular Maltese TV Star and actress Ruth Frendo, who although has a small part, she is totally brilliant and outstanding.
Actually I got to IMDb while I was looking for her name on the internet, in fact on IMDb she has some very stunning photos. I was lucky to meet Ruth Frendo whilst she was filming in another Maltese production. Ruth Frendo is not only a gorgeous and talented actress but she is also amazingly intelligent and very down-to-earth. We will definitely be seeing more of her work in the future...
The scenery used for "Gladiator" is brilliant and the opening battle scene is definitely one of my top favorite scenes. The modern camera technique contrasts sharply to the brutality of the gladiators actions and blood shed during the movie; and I love the light contrasts thanks to the lenses which most definitely have been used to create a surreal feel to the entire movie.
"Gladiator" deserves all the awards and great reviews it has received, and for those of you who still haven't gone and watched it I can assure you that it will be well worth your time and money. So go on and rent it now!
In narrative terms the plot and story arc is simplicity supreme, something Scott and Russell Crowe have never shied away from. There has to my knowledge as well, never been a denial of the debt Gladiator owes to Anthony Mann's 1964 Epic, The Fall of the Roman Empire. Some folk seem very irritated by this, which is strange because the makers of Gladiator were not standing up bold as brass to proclaim they were unique with their movie, what they did do was reinvigorate a stagnant genre of film for a new generational audience. And it bloody worked, the influence and interest in all things Roman or historically swashbuckling of film that followed post Gladiator's success is there for all to see.
What we do in life echoes in eternity.
So no originality in story, then. While some of the CGI is hardly "Grade A" stuff, and there's a little over - mugging acting in support ranks as some of the cast struggle to grasp the period setting required, yet the way Gladiator can make the emotionally committed feel - overrides film making irks. Crowe's Maximus is the man men want to be and the man women want to be with. As he runs through the gamut of life's pains and emotionally fortified trials and tribulations, we are with him every step of the way, urging him towards his day of revenge splattered destiny; with Crowe superb in every pained frame, winning the Academy Award for Best Actor that he should have won for The Insider the previous year.
Backing Crowe up is Joaquin Phoenix giving Commodus preening villainy and Connie Nielsen graceful as Lucilla (pitch Nielsen's turn here against that of Diane Kruger's in Troy to see the class difference for historical period playing). Oliver Reed, leaving the mortal coil but leaving behind a spicy two fold performance as Proximo the Gladiator task master. Olly superb in both body and CGI soul. Richard Harris tugging the heart strings, Derek Jacobi classy, David Hemmings also, while Djimon Hounso gives Juba - Maximus right hand man and confidante - a level of character gravitas that's inspiring.
I didn't know man could build such things.
Dialogue is literate and poetic, resplendent with iconic speeches. Action is never far away, but never at the expense of wrought human characterisations. The flaming arrows and blood letting of the Germania conflict kicks things off with pulse raising clarity, and Scott and his team never sag from this standard. The gladiator arena fights are edge of the seat inducing, the recreation for the Battle of Carthage a stunning piece of action sequence construction. And then the finale, the culmination of two men's destinies, no soft soaping from Scott and Crowe, it lands in the heart with a resounding thunderclap. A great swords and sandals movie that tipped its helmet to past masters whilst simultaneously bringing the genre alive again. Bravo Maximus Decimus Meridius. 10/10
Once a great roman General, and as good as adopted son of Marcus Aurelius Caesar (Harris), Maximus (Crowe) is forced into exile by Commodus (Phoenix), heir to the throne, after the death of Marcus. Saved from death by slavers, he is purchased for use as a gladiator by Proximo (Reed) and ends up in the arena of all arena's, the Colloseum, where he proves unbeatable under his guise as "The Spaniard".
And with a budget of over $100m, Scott certainly delivers the goods. GLADIATOR transcends the notion of 'blockbuster' that we have become accustomed to in the age of electronic and special effects wizardry and instead offers a good old fashioned action film along the lines of Spartacus and and Ben Hur. Not only are we drawn into an archetypal story that contains all the classic elements a filmgoer could dream of (love, loss, courage, despair, good triumphing over evil etc etc) - also on offer is a visual feast of cinematic painting after painting - a rich tapestry of images that are breathtaking and ultimately visually satisfying. From the plains of Germania, to the desert stronghold of Zuchobar, and finally to great Rome herself, John Mathiesion, the cinematographer is to be commended highly for his general inventiveness and ability to capture so much on film. The opening battle scene is superb as a cast of thousands erupt across the screen and provide an indication that we are about to see a film that pays incredible attention to detail throughout its entirety. In every way, Scott has created a world for us that scuttles films of similar epic undertakings (and budgets!) and sends them to their dooms at the bottom of the murky depths of film history where they belong.
The cast is generally very strong. Crowe proves himself very suitable to the task with a great emotional range and depth of character. His accent ocassionally bugged me (as did the mish mash of accents on offer - but that is I guess a legacy of 'internationally casted films'), but this aside, he was well and truly up to the task. Phoenix is also excellent as the disturbed Commodus, as is Nielson as Lucilla, the daughter of Marcus who "should have been a son" and finds herself torn between loyalty to her brother and doing what is 'right'. The old guard thesps of Harris, Reed and Jacobi (Grachus) are uniformly strong as supporting characters, and Spencer Treat Clark (Lucius) does a fine job as the young heir to the throne.
Add to this great cast excellent editing and post production work, and an intricate soundscape (including a magnificent Hans Zimmer score), and you have a film that, despite its length, was highly palatable and had me in there from beginning to end. A must see.
The emperor's son, Commodus, then arrives with his sister Lucilla, and it is discovered that Commodus fully expects to be announced the new emperor of Rome in a few days. Aurelius, however, has other plans--he wants to make Maximus emperor, and requests that of the general, who wants nothing more than to go home to his family.
I went into this movie having just watched Ben-Hur in my film studies class and having watched an episode of Xena only a couple of weeks earlier that featured the story of Marc Anthony and Cleopatra. So you could say I was in the perfect mindset to watch a "sword-and-sandal" movie. I wasn't sure what to expect, having somehow avoided all the hype that accompanied this movie. But I was not disappointed.
Gladiator features some wonderful cinematography by John Mathieson. The battle scenes are very graphic. (This movie is not for the squeamish, that's for sure.) There were some scenes in particular that really struck me, such as when Crowe appears to be floating over the ground very fast. The use of color and color tones added a great deal to the mood of the movie. Excellent.
The script was being written and re-written as the filming was going on, yet it doesn't show that the actors had no idea how the movie was going to end when they began filming. The acting is terrific. Russell Crowe is wonderfully cast as Maximus. Many reviewers agree that he is now officially a star. Joaquin Phoenix also proves his mettle as the emotionally troubled Commodus, whose behavior and emotion toward his sister could give anyone the creeps. Connie Nielsen makes you believe that, as Lucilla, she really is torn between natural loyalty to her brother and doing what she knows is right. Oliver Reed, in his last performance, is memorable in his role of Proximo, the former gladiator who is the owner of Maximus and brings him to Rome. In short, the actors were brilliant in their roles, not over-acting, but giving subtle, strong performances.
The script itself is very good. Although some elements are a little hard to believe--the fact that no one recognizes Maximus when he's a slave?--this film calls for a willing suspension of disbelief, which one would happily comply with. (It's really no fun to nitpick such a movie.)
It's true that this movie does pretty much follow the Braveheart formula. However, this movie includes some elements, such as the cinematography and the incredibly graphic battle scenes (one reviewer likened it to Saving Private Ryan, "only better"), that are spectacular in itself. Overall, a great movie that I highly recommend.
A simple man v. an emperor. I just loved the resilience Maximus showed throughout the movie. I find in most movies, there is an irritatingly slow process where the character has to "find himself," not so with Gladiator. Maximus does what is needed.
I liked how there were only two or three issues within this film. One was the afterlife. Aspects of the afterlife are opened, but not overdone. Love of family is given sizable focus. I liked the theme of love of country that we see as well, although it may not be justly deserved, it is never questioned.
The visual effects were amazing. It actually had me wanting to believe that's the way Rome actually looked in all it's glory. The battle of Carthage reenactment was really great.
The ending is just hypnotic. Intentionally or unintentionally it was simply emotional. The music is wonderfully beautiful as if Maximus' family are telling him...you have arrived.
Bottom line: magnificent. Visually and emotionally satisfying.
Like Ben-Hur, this is a story of a successful man who loses everything thanks to an evil man, and then has to fight his way back up to seek revenge on that man and to obtain his freedom back. It's a tried-and-true formula. This movie doesn't go to excess on the violence as some of the other more recent epic films did, such as "Braveheart" or "The Patriot."
The acting is excellent, beginning with Russell Crowe, who has established himself as one of the best actors of today. Joaquin Phoenix also put himself "on the map" as an actor with his portrayal of the evil "Commodus." He's so annoying you want to slap that sucker, which means he's doing a good job acting. Kudos to the rest of the cast, too.
Too bad they don't make more of these type of films, as they did in the 1950s and 1960s.