It’s All About Russell Crowe, Man
I got so carried away with the ridiculousness of
Gladiator winning the Academy Award that I forgot how good it really is. Is
it the best film of that year? Certainly not, but its winning the award last
year is not so absurd as say, Forrest Gump winning over Pulp Fiction.
Anyway, its silly to hold the Academys foolishness against the films they
Gladiator is a very good adventure film. It has a variety
of very good fight/combat scenes, a decent revenge thread and a great Alpha Male
star in Russell Crowe. What Ridley Scott brings to a film like this is both the
ability to present an entertaining spectacle and the ability and willingness to
make a film that is well crafted dramatically and logically. Consider the
character of Cometus, who in most films would have been one dimensional,
cackling maniac. Here he is a sympathetic, but still evil character–fully
drawn, although the film beats on his need for love a bit too strongly. One need
only compare this film to one from Simon West or Roland Emerich to understand
how lucky we are to have Scott making watchable blockbusters.
Still, there is nothing in Gladiator that pushes it
into the realm of true excellence. The “bread and circus” theme, for example, is
pertinent to contemporary life, but that is a point that has been made before.
Also, I think the film could have been paired down a bit more. Maybe its
because Im a member of generation ADD, but unless a film is exceptional, I
prefer a running time of two hours or less.
The extra features on this disc are excellent. The
commentary from Scott and some of his collaborators is good, providing an
interesting perspective on the story, the characters, the effects, the
historical accuracy of the film and the historical accuracy of historians.
Still, Scott seems more involved in his Hannibal commentary. The
highlight is on disc two: the hour long documentary on real gladiators, which
presents significantly more information than, say, a typical TLC feature. Its
something I can imagine watching more than once.
- Film Overall 7.5
- Direction 7.5
- Acting 8.5
- Story 7
- DVD extras 9
- Rewatchability 7