The title and previews for Gladiator do not do justice to this incredible film. A better title might have been "Maximus", for his story, from glory to slave, gladiator, and (plot point omitted!) is what the film is all about. This is an epic, in every sense of the word. I know that the title and previews are both marketing tools, which should work quite well, giving the film a maximum audience and box office potential. But, if like me, you were put-off by the apparent bad special effects from the televised trailer, specifically a seemingly computer-generated tiger, (the result of an extreme close up and slow-motion effect not seen in the film), or the 'Dolph Lundgren-like' title, don't let it stop you from seeing this film!!!
Director Ridley Scott has created a masterpiece, in my opinion his greatest work. He knows when to use sets as opposed to special effects, and has a great eye for detail. I would describe this film as Braveheart meets Spartacus. I have no doubt that Gladiator will take its place along side these two films. It's that good.
Despite it's 155 minute running time, Gladiator grabbed my attention, and never let go until the end credits ran. The battle scenes are the best I've seen since Braveheart, the acting is superb, and the special effects are first rate. Ridley Scott has one gift over certain other directors in the area of special effects, in that Scott has wise judgement as to when and where to use them. For this reason, Gladiator doesn't seem to be an 'effects' film. The effects are used to enhance scenes, rather than take the place of scenes, which keeps the audience where they should be, within the story.
I must caution you, however, that Gladiator is one of the most violent films I have ever seen. There is more blood and gore in this film than you might imagine from a big Hollywood film. I won't give an example, just remember that you have been warned.
I also must caution you, that with the release of Gladiator, most theatres have once again raised their admission prices. This shouldn't stop you from seeing this film, either. It's one for the BIG SCREEN. Don't wait for Pay-Per-View. Don't wait for the video. Go see it!
Special Home Video Review Addition: Hope you've got a big T.V. screen!!!
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Pheonix
Rated: R (Extreme Violence)
Running Time: 155 Min.
A.J.'s Rating: 5 Thumbs Up (Well, Ebert borrowed it, too!)
Winner of 5 Academy Awards, Including BEST PICTURE