Sunday, 17 February 2013

Gladiator (2000) Review

Gladiator (2000) PosterAnother film off my top ten films of all time. This film was a surprise for me, the film that brought back the Hollywood "Epic", reminiscent of that classic movie (or movies if you look at the 1925 silent version) William Wyler's Ben-Hur (1958). I know they are about 40 some years apart but even Ridley Scott says he went back and used Ben-Hur as reference (found this out on Ben-Hur DVD extras).

When comparing this film to Ben-Hur I refer to the huge cast of what seems, unlimited extras, the grand scenery, and the huge Rome Colosseum in all its grandeur. Its strange when you think it took forty years for a studio and director to make a film on the same scale.

I can hear you asking me so why isn't Ben-Hur in your top 10? Well to simply put this is just one of them films that has it all for me, Action, Drama, Brilliant cast, Emotion, Power, Intensity and an amazing musical score by Hans Zimmer.  The cinematography by John Mathieson in this film is also second to non. The colours just jump out at you and the scenery is amazing, even simple things like corn fields look amazingly done. There is one shot we see, the journey into Rome. They show us the crowds going into the colosseum, its breathtaking, sort of reminiscent of Cleopatra (1962) and the scene where Cleo, makes her grand entrance into Rome. I have not seen anything close to it in cinema since that particular scene.

The only down side for me is, unlike the scene from Cleopatra these scenes in Gladiator are Computer Graphic Images. Anyone who has read my thoughts on Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, will know my stance on CGI. The entrance to Rome in Cleopatra looks more spectacular when you consider its all real sets and cost a fortune (made 20th Century Fox nearly bankrupt).

The special effects just pushed things to the limit, yes they are gory but this is trying its best to show how horrible the lives of these people were, and that they were just treated as entertainment to the people of Rome. These Gladiators have no hope they were just sent out to please the crowd and if they are lucky they earn their freedom. The fights in the Colosseum are just breathtaking and so gruesome, the choreography must of been so immense for the Actors. The end of the film is just pure power and emotion. The ending is just that perfect cherry on top of a Epic cake that even Mr Kipling himself would be exceedingly proud of.

This will be a long plot summery. This film revolves around Maximus played powerfully by Russel Crowe (who won the Oscar for this performance). When we first see Maximus he is a powerful Roman general, who has just won a huge battle for the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius (the legendary Richard Harris). On his death bed, the Emperor tells Maximus that he wishes him to take over as Emperor, when he has gone. The Emperor's son Commodus played by Joaquin Phoenix (one day sir you will win an oscar), hears about this and has his father murdered, so no one knows about Maximus becoming the Emperor, so he can have it for himself. Commodus goes on to have Maximus and his family put to death, unable to save his family. Maximus is caught as a slave and forced in the games to fight as a Gladiator. But he wants to have his freedom, so he can get revenge for his family. This makes him pretty much fight for his life, this man has so much human spirit and willpower. He garners respect even from his own "owner" played by the legendary Oliver Reed, which was sadly his last film. Oliver Reed puts in one hell of a performance its a beautiful swan song for a man that had such a tragic real life. Will Maximus be able to use his popularity to avenge his families death, or will the tyrannical Commodus be able to keep the throne. Watch it to find out.
Post a Comment