FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: “Are you not entertained!?” Last night I saw the Oscar-winning movie, “Gladiator”, which stars Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind, Robin Hood ), Joaquin Phoenix (Her, Signs), Connie Nielsen (One Hour Photo, Devil’s Advocate), Djimon Hounsou (Seventh Son, Guardians of the Galaxy), Oliver Reed (Oliver!, Tommy), Richard Harris (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Unforgiven ), and Spencer Treat Clark (Mystic River, Unbreakable). It is directed by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien). Maximus Meridius (Crowe) is a terrific Roman general that has won many battles. After fighting in yet another one, and winning, all Maximus wants to do is go home to his family at his farmhouse. Before he goes, however, the king of Rome, Marcus Aurelius (Harris), asks of Maximus to take his place as emperor of Rome before he passes away. Even though he has a son, Commodus (Phoenix), he finds him unfit to handle the duties of emperor for he is corrupt. Marcus believes that Maximus knows what is best for the people. As Maximus thinks this over, Marcus passes away through the night and Commodus takes his place no matter what his father wanted. Maximus believes that Marcus didn’t die of old age, but was murdered and because he has no respect for Commodus, Commodus sent people after him to kill him. As Maximus escapes, he finds that his wife and son have both been murdered by the Roman army and before he can leave, he is taken prisoner and becomes a gladiator, a man who is set up to die in coliseums. Maximus plans to gain his freedom so that he can have his vengeance.
Longing, pain, vengeance. All are the main themes to “Gladiator”. I never expected to see this movie at this time, but I am glad I did. I have seen a few movies, TV specials, and cartoons centered around the Roman times of coliseum battles and whatnot, but this movie would have to be at the top of the list. The plot, although mainly filled with dialogue, is so interesting and it held my attention throughout the whole thing. For some reason, the writing in this was almost spot-on with what to put in at the right moment. Conflict is another theme of this story and it is used well. The characters used for this conflict whether physically or emotionally were terrific. I could feel the pain and suffering Maximus was going through and I also felt dirty watching Commodus and his sick fantasies. You can really connect with these characters onscreen and the acting is also amazing. Joaquin Phoenix did an awesome job at playing Commodus and I really hated his character throughout. Russell Crowe was also terrific playing Maximus. Everyone did a good job is what I’m saying. The battles in the coliseum were thrilling and were what Roman battles are supposed to look like. Of course in “Pompeii” they had good action scenes, but I was more on the edge of my seat in this one. The violence had a good hand in that. Usually for a movie that has a lot of gore and violence isn’t respected by me, but this movie pulled it off. What it did was it gave you angles where you knew what happened, you thought it was cool, but you weren’t totally grossed out. Movies, especially most horror films, that have bloody violence now just want it to gross people out. I don’t like those kinds because mainly it takes away from the story and feels stupid. In this movie, however, you don’t feel that way. It’s epic to see this. It’s just about as epic as “300” in the sense of its battles. Of course there is one gross-out scene, but it is rather minor and it is a key in Maximus’s changing of character. Along with the awesome scenes is the visual effects. Rome is beautiful. Looking at the architecture is just great to take in. Most of the stuff in this movie isn’t CGI which adds a great realistic factor to it. One more thing I have to mention that is great about this movie is how realistic it is. Even though I know the hero is going to last throughout the movie, I was still stressed. A good movie does that. It pits the hero against a foe that he/she will have trouble beating and shows the struggle. That is how conflict should be dealt and I give props to this movie for doing so. Now the cons. There are only two cons I found in this movie. The first is minor. I have to state that the goof where you see an air-pressure tank behind one of the chariots is obvious when it rolls on-screen. But, you only see it in one shot and not the rest so it isn’t a huge issue. The last con I have is some scenes can be slow in this film. There aren’t many, but they are still there. It is hard for a movie to be quick in pace if it is almost three hours though. Overall, this movie definitely deserved a Best Picture award and if you haven’t seen it, drop everything you’re doing and watch it! You will not be disappointed. It is truly a magnificent piece of film and art which everyone show get a glimpse of. FINAL SCORE: 97%= Juicy Popcorn
This movie has been inducted into The Juicy Hall of Fame.
Here is the trailer: