This film has it all. Fantastic acting, directing and score. If I could wax lyrical about this film unheeded this blog post could stretch to several thousand words, so I’ll try to make it as brief as possible.
When Maximus (Russell Crowe)’s wife and son are murdered and he is betrayed, he becomes a gladiator; seeking revenge. This film is littered with big names. Oliver Reed, Joaquin Phoenix, Russell Crowe and Derek Jacobi to name but a few. We also had a strong female character in the form of Lucilla (played by Connie Nielsen) who was the sister of the corrupt Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). She was a strong, clever woman but had to ensure her son Lucius was safe against the corrupt power of Commodus and others. Some have commented that her speech at the end of the film was unneeded, but I disagree. It added the final layer to an already satisfying film, and makes the audience question what was the true price of Maximus’s sacrifice.
Joaquin Phoenix was eerily good as Commodus. You could write a whole character study on him. He is the ‘bad twin’ to Maximus, and it was enthralling watching Commodus’s trial of destruction from a son eager for his father’s approval to twisted, corrupted emperor about to face Maximus in a final gladiator battle.
As I said, the music is superb. It seems so..ethereal and fits perfectly with the film production over all. In the 21st century when our exposure to sword-and-sandal movies is limited to such television shows as Spartacus: Blood and Sand or to pretentious Rome-Titanic crossovers such as the soon-to-be released Pompeii. I don’t think any Romanesque movies or television have been made with the finesse of Gladiator.
It was unexpectedly moving, too. Throughout the film Maximus was clearly wounded emotionally from the murder of his wife and son. Even after all his success in the Colosseum, all Maximus wanted was to be with his departed family again. I am not ashamed to say that I cried when Lucilla comforted Maximus before he died. A phenomenal film.
MY RATING: 5 / 5.