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A great Roman general about to assume a role of great importance by the emperor is forced into slavery after his family is killed by the heir to the throne. Trained as a gladiator, his fame rises,...  View more >

Starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen

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Reviews Summary

Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

[--- Good ---]by  
May 5, 2000
Gladiator is a good movie. I felt that it came very close to becoming great, but for whatever reason, it just missed greatness. I think the movie was missing heart. I didn't feel the pain that Russell Crowe felt. I did feel tension during the batle scenes, but, that was about it. It's worth seeing. I give it 3 stars.
[--- See Now! ---]by  
May 7, 2000
Awesome spectical. A must see. Epic, Ben-Hur, Braveheart, and Sparticus all roled into one. Russell Crowe will be a major star afer this. I can't wait for his next movie.
[--- Wait for Rental ---]by  
May 7, 2000
Russell Crowe had a good part, and he played it well, but the blood and guts was overwhelming.

The movie was lean on plot and heavy on gore. Little of the plot was interesting.
[--- Good ---]by  
May 8, 2000
If you are in to action movies that contain intense, vivid battle scenes, then this is the movie for you. If you want to see a movie that is an informative, historical account of the past, then look elsewhere.

The first 45 minutes or so of the movie set up the death and subsequent succesion of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. After his son, Commodus, hastens Marcus Aurelius' death by strangling him, he orders for the execution of the top military general, Maximus (Crowe). After a predicted escape from his executioners, Maximus is picked up by a group of slave traders. Here he becomes enlisted among the gladiators. Meanwhile the hated Commodus returns to Rome to begin his tyranny. As expected, Maximus and Commodus eventually meet at a huge gladiatorial spectacle in Rome. The crowd loves Maximus, so Commodus is unable to have him killed. The movie ends as Maximus fights in order to avenge the death of the former emperor. This all takes 2:45 min. Most of that time is filled with action-packed fighting scenes. While the plot seems to slow down.

The first scene of the movie, a startling depiction of the Roman war machine, made the movie worth the $7. Although the movie didn't invest much time in expanding or developing the plot (maybe because the producers were more interested in making a movie that would appeal to the mass), it did allow one to experience what the world would have looked like in 2nd century Rome. For this I gave the movie a good rating. If you are going to see it, see it in a theatre where the special effects pull you into the movie.
[--- See Now! ---]by  
May 9, 2000
An outstanding movie! My wife and I found "Gladiator" to be one of the best movies we've ever seen. Or maybe I should say "experienced." To see this movie on a very large screen with the proper high-tech sound system is a must.
For example, when the gladiators enter the coliseum, the movie-goer is placed in awe of the sight of the throngs of enthusiatic fans and the size of the arena. But even more than that, you are bombarded with a wall of noise that makes it seem as though you are really there. (It is REALLY L-O-U-D!!!) For those of you a bit squeamish about blood and gore...let's say that for the most part, the director apparently wanted realism, and a battle, whether in the forests of Germania or on the floor of the coliseum isn't pretty. But, I will say that the gore is a small price to pay. This movie is incredibly good.

Russell Crowe does an absolutely believable job as a highly successful General in the Roman army, who has but one goal: he wants to go home to his wife and son. The plot twists and turns, but always comes back to his desire to be with his family.

A great story, a great set of actors, and a remarkable blending of technology make this movie a must see.

Enjoy the show. Go right now. You won't regret it.
[--- See Now! ---]by  
May 11, 2000
[--- See Now! ---]by  
May 11, 2000
A great movie... I can't wait to see it again. My main complaints - the gore, some deliberate blurriness in certain scenes - all fit within the context of the story and made for a beautiful experience.

One other reviewer's complaint was that "Joachim Phoenix, while giving a very good performance, seems to be confused about whether his character should be evil or seen by us sympathetically." I disagree - who wants flat characters? I think the pity I felt for his character actually added to the emotional content and made for a better movie.
[--- Wait for Rental ---]by  
May 13, 2000
over-hyped and way over publicized bogus reviews convinced us to go and see this one. as per usual in cases like this the trailer showed all the good scenes and the movie wasn't worth the 2 1/2 hours of film it was pressed too. russell crowe tried his best to carry a devishly dry movie that unfortunately was too big for an actor even of his caliber.

recommend waiting for the video on this one. save yourself the grief of wasting the $7.50.
May 13, 2000
Gladiator hopes to be an epic film on the order of Ben Hur and Spartacus, and one can't help but to draw parallels to films that cover such similar territory.

Despite strong performances by Russell Crowe, Connie Nielsen, and Joaquin Phoenix, the storyline does not provide a fitting foundation for their efforts. Don't get me wrong, the opening battle scene could have gone on for twice as long, and I wouldn't have minded, it was excellent. As was the action in the Roman Coliseum during the games.

The special effects did not get in the way, and added to the film. Re-creating second-century Rome was done so well, you didn't feel like you were seeing computer-generated images, which is a good sign for the technology.

All these things make for good entertainment, but for $7.75, I expect the whole package; strong characters, good plot, and the appropriate amount of action (in an action movie). The lack of a solid plot is where Gladiator falls short, but only slightly. Set that concern aside, and you will be entertained for the 2.5 hour running time.
[--- See Now! ---]by  
May 13, 2000
A very good movie. It does seem to slow down in a couple of places but picks back up. You may not want to pay the $7.50 but great deal for the $4.50 afternoon show. Very entertaining for 2 1/2 hours.
May 14, 2000
This is one of those films where it pays to see it on the big screen.

While not the epic picture that some folks have been making it out to be, Russell Crowe (as Maximus) ties the story together and really pulls off all the fight sequences.

The opening battle scene, set in 180 AD, sets up Maximus as a war hero. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) is near death, and rather than allow his son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) to take over, he wants Maximus to restore Rome to its former glory.

Commodus figures out what's about to happen and takes matters into his own hands.

While I thought that the sword battle scenes were well done, I was disappointed with the dialog. For a movie set in that time period, the dialog seemed too modern for the time period.

Copyright 2000 - Ron Higgins
No unauthorized publication or distribution without the consent of Ron Higgins.
[--- See Now! ---]by  
May 16, 2000
Stand up and roar with the crowd for the "Gladiator"! This is a well-written, well-acted, and lush film. Joaquin Phoenix is remarkably brilliant. He not only looks the part, but gives life to the chiseled role of a twisted ruler.
Joaquin's careful presentation is closely matched by Russel Crowe's, who has obviously studied fellow Australian, Mel Gibson. This does not distract from Crowe's physically demanding portrayal of the everybody-eventually-loves-him, Maximus. Supporting actors do not fail the movie, either. Richard Harris is regal as Marcus Aurelius, who gives birth to an equally strong daughter. Magnificent!

What is most disappointing, however, in this sure-to-be-nominated picture is director Ridley Scott's unusual choice of lighting, pace, and quirky fast-forward-like filming, especially in the opening fight scene. Truly an odd choice. Scott unwittingly makes a cartoon out of what begins as a very believable setting. As much as I was pulled in during scenes, Scott helped me remember I was only in a theater. For shame! To be fair, Scott does an overall good job surpassed mainly by his superb cast. Come to see the coliseum! Come to see power! Come to see the "Gladiator" as he uses his righteousness to prevail!
[--- See Now! ---]by  
May 17, 2000
"Gladiator" can be chalked up to many things, superfluous violence, lean plot... BUT NOT BY ME. This was an excellent movie by virtue of Russell Crowe's character, Maximus. There has not been such a noble, powerful, yet sensitive hero since Braveheart. The direction, photography and cinematography are beaustiful, amplifying emotion through unorthodox coloration and textural scenes.

This movie has more heart than anything coming out of Hollywood lately. I think it is necessary to understand the violent times in which Gladiator takes place. The reason they didn't show similar violence in Ben-Hur etc, is because Hollywood simply lacked to technology to pull it off efficiently, not to mention the money.

If you aren't moved, you may have gone in with your mind made up, either that or you're dead.
[--- Good ---]by  
May 17, 2000
Gladiator just missed Greatness with what I saw as a failed ending and some real dead spots. All parts were acted well and visually this movie is stunning, it just missed the mark somehow.

I do recommend seeing it, the first battle and seeing a depiction of the Roman battle machine in action is awesome. Ridley Scott did blur some of the action scenes to create tension and confusion, not like Battlefield Earth did, trying to hide it's lack of funding.

Though the battle scenes were said to be like Braveheart or even The 13th Warrior, though spectacular in their own rite, they are different. Some of the melodrama was a bit thick and somehow the pain and anguish of the character's was lost for me, but all in all I still really enjoyed the movie.

Go see it for a matinee price if anything, but see it on the big screen.
[--- See Now! ---]by  
May 19, 2000
It takes a great movie to get the adrenalin pumping, where you sit on the edge of your seat not sure what will happen next to the characters.

Gladiator evokes this type of emotion. Director Ridley Scott re-creates war better than Speilberg did in Saving Private Ryan. The plot races along with nary a pause to catch your breath. The Russell Crowe / Mel Gibson comparisons are inevitable, but I would give the edge to Crowe, since he doesn't rely on facial expressions to convey the emotion of a scene.

Guys, see this movie now! This may be sexist, but I'm afraid most women will not like Gladiators. Take modern day ultimate fighting/mixed martial arts and make the competitors fight to the death. How many women want to see that? A boy's night out film for sure!
[--- See Now! ---]by  
May 26, 2000
Once you get past the blood, guts, and decapitations, the plot is fairly thick. Joaquin Phoenix does an outstanding job as the evildoer, and wasn't really a Russell Crowe fan until now.

Not for the kids, but a great film for people who enjoy action and Roman history.
[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jun 2, 2000
The movie was great! Don't miss out on this one. The actors may have not performed their best, but in this action-packed movie who cares? Great movie. Don't miss it!!
Jun 4, 2000
The story was good, but the movie was short of emotion.
[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jun 11, 2000
Some critics and other people have compared this movie to "Braveheart" but
it really is a much different movie. If you don't mind a few decapitations and some blood, this is really a fun movie.

The acting is solid throughout the movie. Joaquin Phoenix (Commudus) does an excellent job as the tormented villain and Oliver Reed (Proximo) is strong also as the ex-gladiatior owner/trainer.

Russell Crowe is more of a physical presence in the movie and his acting is adequate. The visual effects were nicely done and not overbearing. Overall, I felt the movie was very satisfying and worth seeing again!
[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jun 11, 2000
"People should know when they are conquered", intones a lieutenant to General Maximus (Crowe), early in the film. It's a statement that serves as a reflection of the indomitable force of human desire. Gladiator is a film about man's ability to overcome near insurmountable odds. Homeric in scale, it is one of those rare films that deserves the title "epic". Nestled within a grand tale of treachery, political maneuvering and personal loss, it none-the-less takes time to savage the modern day notions of sports and entertainment.

Crowe is General Maximus, pointman for the juggernaut-like Roman military of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Harris), an expansionist pricked by nettles of guilt over his place in history. Harris effectively conveys the weariness of absolute power checked by self doubt as he wonders if his yearnings to build a strong Rome have smothered his philosophical leanings. He visits Maximus on the battlefield as his army executes it's final sweep in a 100 A.D. version of Manifest Destiny. The battle opens the film. It's filmed in deeply saturated tones of dark yellow and blue, contrasting the muddy, fog covered terrain against the warm flare of archers lofting flaming arrows towards their targets. The whole film is suffused with gorgeous colors, making it a truly beautiful movie. Director Scott uses a frenzy of jumpcuts as the action blinks from combatant to combatant. His pace is so frenetic that it becomes indecipherable who is doing what to whom. It's disconcerting and detracts from comprehension of the fighting. As the battle is won and Aurelius praises Maximus for his leadership, Aurelius' son, Commodus (Phoenix) ,arrives disingenuously asking if he has missed the battle. The contrast between the leather clad, bleeding Maximus and the misplaced looking, bejeweled silk and fur garb of Commodus signals the near palpable difference between the two men.

As the army tends to it's wounds, the ailing Aurelius takes the General aside for a father-surrogate son chat in which he pleads with Maximus that he take control of Rome upon his passing. It is the Ceasar's wish that the power of Rome by given to the senate, and by proxy, the people, dissolving the dictatorship it has been under. It's a request that tears at Maximus. A simple farmer at heart, he longs to return to his wife and son, but can't deny his intrinsic devotion to the Roman empire. Later, as Aurelius explains his decision of succession to Commodus, events quickly take a turn into true Greek tragedy as Commodus kills his father in a opportunistic fit of ambitious rage. The scene plays out better than would be expected as Commodus shows no glee in the killing and appears helpless to fight his naked desire. Phoenix plays Commodus as progressively unbalanced throughout the film, yet manages to project an aura of animal cunning. He is a man seriously flawed, yet brutally dangerous in the wielding of his power upon his father's death.

Revealed around the same time is a former love affair between Aurelius' daughter, Lucilla (Nielsen) and Maximus. Time and again, much is made of the unspoken love between the pair. I found it a bewildering relationship as Lucilla repeatedly betrays Maximus in the name of self preservation. It seems as if Lucilla is supposed to come across as a sympathetic character as she tries to temper Commodus' rage. The implication is that her actions are driven by her maternal protection of her son, but as her transgressions against both Commodus and the General escalated, I found myself thinking her nearly as evil a monster as her brother. When she gives a speech late in the film praising Maximus, it speaks as much of her hypocrisy as it does to Maximus' strength of character.

Not to reveal the entirety of the events that unfold, but in quick succession, Maximus must endure the stripping of his position, the death of his family and being captured into slavehood, where he is forced to become a gladiator.

As each gladiator event unfolds, with the stakes being no less than the lives of the combatants, it cast a none too kind light upon today's modern day gladiators in professional sports and our national fascination with personal tragedy. Whether it was Scott's intention or not, an argument can be made that the gladiator fights are a blistering indictment on our tabloid crazy, insensitivity to the pain of others as we look for entertainment, no matter what it's form.

As Gladiator (Maximus) rises through the ranks, he eventually comes into conflict with his nemesis, Commodus. Commodus comes to represent the duplicity and scheming of politicians, while Gladiator speaks to the force of human desire. As Commodus manipulates events in an attempt to gain a perceptual advantage over Maximus in the populace's eyes, one can't help but see an analogy to modern day spinmeisters and today's national media in relation to the leeming-like whims of the general public.

Crowe's Gladiator is a model of reluctant heroism. For him, fighting is a functionality of survival, nothing more. He eschews flashiness unless it is necessary. This is not a superman. He is a simple man, who is very good at what he does. By downplaying the invincible hero aspect in favor of a protagonist who bleeds, cries and suffers loss, the film ups the meter on Crowe's already infinite watchability. Crowe's oft displayed intensity adds dimension to what could have been a two dimensional role. His yearnings and sense of loss take on a certain tangibility due to his acting skills.

Oliver Reed is an equally strong presence as a gladiator trainer who almost sells his soul as he panders to the masses thirst for entertainment. Djimon Hounsou soulfully essays the role of Gladiator's best friend and confidant.

Gladiator doesn't come across as a dissection of Roman politics, nor does it particularly pander to the blood thirsty voyeurs lurking in its audience looking for cheap thrills. It manages to travel a middle ground of viscerally captivating, solid entertainment.

review by Scott Hunt. Visit me at Movie Hunt http://netdirect.net/~hunt/index.html
[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jun 27, 2000
This is not just a movie, but more of an experience. This is a definate for the big screen. Every actor played their role perfectly.

The only thing that I warn people that there is quite a bit of violence, but it is not for shock value. There is plenty of action, but there is also a story.
If you want to see this movie, see it at the big screen!
[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jun 27, 2000
This movie is definitely the MOVIE OF THE YEAR for me! It was absolutely spectacular!

Mission what? Gone where? Chicken what? Give me a break...this is a definite must-see!

Russell Crowe is AWESOME and the story is very, very good. Anyone who loves good movies should see this without delay!
[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jul 5, 2000
Russell Crowe is teriffic in almost every film. I just hope he gets another Academy nomination for this film, since he should have won for his performance in "The Insider".

Gladiator gives the feel and imagination that you are in the arena. Great good guy vs. Bad guy film. You will cheer for him throughout the movie. The only problem I have is that the plot is too transparent. Crowe's identity is revealed way to early in the film.

Still, it is definitely a movie that must be seen on the big screen. It is a must see!
Dec 10, 2000
1st Review for Gladiator


Where on earth did they spend all those millions?

Though I've given this a 'Good' rating, and I do think it's worth seeing, I was personally very disappointed. Maybe the hype for the movie had me expecting a lot more than I eventually got. I'm not sure but the warning bells should have sounded when most of the Hollywood and tabloid critics gave this movie glowing reviews.

After a fast and furious first 30 minutes the movie just seemed to get slower and slower and even a little disjointed in parts. Joachim Phoenix, while giving a very good performance, seems to be confused about whether his character should be evil or seen by us sympathetically.

Russell Crows' performance is also very good along with the excellent support cast (especially the late Oliver Reed)

For me though, what really spoilt a potentially great movie was the much-touted battle scenes. Many said they were similar to Brave heart. They're NOT. More like the similarly confusing scenes from Joan of Arc.

Too much of it was shot annoyingly close to the actors making it TOO confusing and difficult to follow.

I don't know, maybe Ridley Scott wanted to put across the total confusion of being in the middle of a battle. I don't want that. I want to stand back and view the action, take it in, experience the battle, if it's very realistic, from a viewers standpoint NOT, as in this case, as a participant.

Another, confusing for some, aspect of the main battle. The chanting by the Germans at the beginning was, word for word, the same chant by the Zulus' from the movie of the same name. Did Ridley Scott know this? Or, were the extras extracting the urine? I certainly don't think there is a historical precedent for it.

Cutting to the chase. If the movie was trying to be EPIC then the Ending was straight out of a B movie. I was expecting another battle scene with the two Roman armies and although I really didn't want to sit through another fight scene reminiscent of watching the action from actors with cameras strapped to their backs It would have been preferable to the weak offering that we were served.

Maybe it was getting too expensive to finish with a 'Climactic battle' but if that were the case. Where's The Money Gone?

2nd Review For Gladiator

Well, I’ve just seen Gladiator on DVD and felt I must post a revised review. Not to replace, but to add to my initial response (Perhaps professional critics should take note)

Believe it or not, this is a movie (In my opinion) that works better on the ‘small’ screen!

All of the ultra close-ups that I found so irritable at the cinema are less noticeable and the feeling of standing next to the combatants is also less of a problem, therefore producing a much more enjoyable ‘ride’ giving you time to concentrate on the story, the fabulous sets and the seamless CGI.

The DVD comes on 2 discs complete with a 50-minute documentary about ‘Real’ Gladiators and with at least 11 deleted scenes. Some of which I felt they should not have cut from the finished movie.

I’m still not happy with the ending, but my rating has changed to a definite ‘SEE NOW’ (On DVD or Video of course)

glenk@foxit.com.au (Feel free to contact me)
Unauthorized publication or distribution without the consent of Glen Kimberley is actively encouraged. (As long as you let me know) I will not track you down, kill your family, rape your dog, burn your house down or bang a supermarket trolley into your car door.

Apr 4, 2001
"Gladiator" is another of those historical epics that centers on one individual's battle for loyality and freedom. Russell Crowne plays a Roman general who was framed for murder and was thrown into the arena of the gladiators.

What I like about this movie is the major battle scenes in the arena. In additional to the battles, there are battles outside the arena as well. The film is wonderful to look at, anywhere from the scenes of the arena to Crowne's view of the afterlike. "Gladiator" also takes a look at Rome at it's glory, and on the verge of it's destruction.
[--- See Now! ---]by  
Apr 15, 2001
Awesome movie. Russel Crowe does a good job but the battles and the plot are what really makes the movie.
Aug 31, 2007

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