Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Russel Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, and Richard Harris.
Now that I have a job, and tend to get just about every Thursday off, I figure it was time to do one of my double-feature days. And what better way to kick off this summer of double-features than with the first big summer blockbuster, Gladiator?
Maximus (Crowe) is the best general in the Roman Empire. But, he is also a man of simple tastes. He longs for his tour of duty to end so he can return home to his wife and son. But, things don’t go as planned. Marcus Aurelius (Harris), ruler of the empire, is dying. His son Commodus (Phoenix) is too corrupt, so he asks Maximus to make sure that rule is restored to the senate in a safe and orderly fashion. Commodus doesn’t like this idea one bit, so Commodus murders his father, and then orders the death of Maximus and his family. Maximus escapes, but is too late to save his family. He is soon picked up by wanderers, and sold as a slave to Proximo (Reed), who seeks to train Maximus as a gladiator. Maximus soon rises to be the best, and with the help of Commodus’ sister, Lucilla (Nielsen), soon seeks to gain vengeance for his family, and fulfill the final wish of Marcus Aurelius.
This movie is pretty good. The battle scenes are some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen (and definitely some of the bloodiest). Even the special effects are amazing! There’s this one shot of ancient Rome that looks like they actually flew a helicopter over ancient Rome to get it! Crowe, as Maximus, is everything a hero should be: devoted to his cause and family, and always fighting for what’s right. Phoenix makes Commodus a particularly slimy villain, one who’ll scheme and plot and just do whatever it takes to get the throne. All in all, a great way to start the summer.