Classic Film Review: Gladiator (2000)

And the Oscar Goes to:

Gladiator, 2000

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris


Being part of an Oscar-winning film is impressive, but Russell Crowe has joined Michael Keaton (Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and Spotlight) and John Goodman (Argo and The Artist) in being part of back-to-back Oscar-winning films (A Beautiful Mind and Gladiator) since the year 2000. Gladiator focuses on Crowe’s character, Maximus, who is, as Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) puts it: ‘the general who became a slave; the slave who became a gladiator; the gladiator who defied an empire’. Commodus, himself, murdered his father, rose to become emperor and fights off those who rebel against him. These stories run side-by-side leading to a battle between the two.

With the Oscar-winning films being further and further away from the present, the presentation will score will take this into effect. Gladiator, however, needs no lowering of the standard as the whole film is beautiful. Set in Rome in 180 A.D., the shots of the coliseum, the towns and all the battle scenes are brilliant and would hold up to today’s standard. And on-screen presentation aside, it’s strikingly obvious watching this that it shares the same film score composer, Hans Zimmer, as the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The music in the film is brilliant and never distracts from the action, but the main musical number from this film is almost identical to the action-scene music from Pirates.

As mentioned, Russell Crowe followed this performance with his Oscar-nominated performance in A Beautiful Mind, and seeing how different the characters are yet how brilliantly Crowe portrays each character is a testament to his acting skills. The whole cast in this film play their parts brilliantly. While Ridley Scott never won the award for Best Director, the direction this film takes is very effective. Running at nearly three-hours long, there isn’t a single scene in this film which feels out of place. The drama between Commodus and Maximus is brilliantly stretched out, as we follow Maximus’ rise through the Gladiator ranks before they meet.

Gladiator is a truly wonderful film, with a brilliant presentation, characters and actors. While some scenes could have been stretched out further (including the early battles and the death of Maximus’ family, to really hit home his loss), it doesn’t take anything away from a wonderful film from start to finish.


Plot: * * *     Acting: * * * *     Writing: * * * *     Presentation: * * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * *


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