Film review: Gladiator (2000), directed by Ridley Scott
General Maximus (Russell Crowe) wins a battle against Germanic tribes, fighting for his ageing Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris). The Emperor is a good guy – for a Roman emperor – and so is Maximus, so Marcus Aurelius wants Maximus to succeed him. His son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) has other plans.
Commodus kills his father the emperor and takes the throne, telling General Quintus (Tomas Arana) to send people to Spain to kill Maximus’s family because Maximus refuses to pledge allegiance to the new emperor.
Maximus is to be executed, but he escapes and goes home to find his family murdered. Mistaken for a deserter he ends up in a slave caravan and is taken to north Africa, where he is sold to Proximo (Oliver Reed) to become a gladiator. Maximus is very good at being a gladiator and finally ends up back in Rome, face to face with Emperor Commodus.
Also featuring Connie Nielsen as Lucilla, Derek Jacobi as Gracchus, Djimon Hounsou as Juba, David Schofield as Falco, John Shrapnel as Gaius, Ralf Möller as Hagen, Spencer Treat Clark as Lucius, David Hemmings as Cassius, Tommy Flanagan as Cicero, Sven-Ole Thorsen as Tigris, and Omid Djalili as a slave trader.
Gladiator has made it all the way to #47 on the IMDb Top 250 list. It’s a good film. It’s well-acted, well-scripted, well-directed, and so on. It’s 2.5 hours of the Roman Empire but I felt it had a very slow start. In fact, the first time I tried watching the film I gave up after about half an hour or 40 minutes and thought “I’ll continue another day” and then that didn’t happen and I eventually deleted the file of the DVR. When it was on again more recently I recorded it again to watch, and then it was on the DVR for some time before I felt inclined to sit down and actually watch it.
Commodus is a creepy bastard, partly down to his hitting on his sister Lucilla. The rest … well, he started out by murdering his dad and stealing an empire from the person who was going to take over. And then ordering the murder of that person’s family. Charming guy, not so much. Jack Gleeson said he had watched Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator and took that portrayal as an inspiration for Joffrey in Game of Thrones, and … well, if you’ve seen them both you’ll know how well that works. Like I said, creepy.
It’s a good film, like I said, but I’m not in any sort of hurry to watch it again.
4 out of 5 lions.