BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JUNE 23, 2013
Ridley Scott directs this Academy Award-winning period piece starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix that comes straight out of a Shakespearean story, with passion and betrayal, fathers and sons fighting, and political agendas and uprisings. As Maximus, Crowe is the star of the show and brings action and stylized, historical drama in full force in every scene that he graces. You rally behind him just as the bystanders in the coliseum idolize him. Phoenix is the perfect, subtle villain. The scorned son, the scorned brother, and the scorned emperor.
Had the cast been built as strong as these two tent-poles, this would have been the perfect film, but instead, the rest of the cast brings in several exciting performances, but nothing as memorable as Crowe or Phoenix. The progression of the plot and building of its characters is so strong that it doesn’t matter who steps into those roles. “Gladiator” is the “Ben Hur” of our time, and having won Best Picture, will not only be immortalized in the halls of the Academy but cinema in general.
May 5, 2000
(for intense, graphic combat)