If you like a good, old-fashioned sword and sandals epic, you’ll love Gladiator. Heck, if you like good, old-fashioned bloodshed, and lots of it, you’ll love Gladiator even more.
Loosely based on real events (although the main character, played by Russell Crowe, is fi ctional), Gladiator tells the story of Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius who, after losing his wife and son at the hands of the corrupt and cowardly heir to the empire, Commodus, is enslaved and forced to fight in the legendary gladiatorial arenas of ancient Rome.
Gladiator was a smash hit at the box office, grossing a massive $457,640,427 and picking up a healthy five Academy Awards. Since then it has gone on to become one of the best selling DVDs of all time, having moved over 5,370,000 units since its release, so diehard fans of the movie will rejoice over this two-disc Blu-ray rerelease. It features two versions of the film, audio commentary and deleted scenes, and a massive amount of bonus material that will satisfy even the most knowledgeable devotee.
The movie looks great, with enormous sets (many created with groundbreaking CGI effects) and gritty and believable action, but the thing that really makes Gladiator shine is the clarity of the storytelling. It is, unapologetically, a straight-ahead revenge tale, and that’s what makes it work so well. Director Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien) creates grand sets and real spectacles, but the fundamental motif of the film, our hero fighting for justice, remains at the heart of the piece throughout. To this end, some critics have commented on a perceived lack of depth in the characters, but for what Gladiator is, that’s just how it should be, with a steely-eyed Russell Crowe perfectly cast as the taciturn Maximus.
If this review seems a little breathless, it’s because that’s how this blockbusting and undeniably visceral movie leaves you. Highly recommended.