Winner of Five Oscars and a general critical darling. Russel Crowe isn’t usually one of my favourites, but I can make this one an exception.

Certificate: 15

Director: Ridley Scott

Screenwriter: David Franzoni

Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen

Genre: Action, History

Runtime: 155 Minutes

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

After the death of the emperor, a Roman general is selected to be the next ruler of Rome.  But the jealous son of the emperor has the general arrested and set for execution, along with his wife and som.  After he escapes, he becomes a slave and later a Gladiator, set back to Rome to fight in a series of games.  Once in Rome he orchestrates a plan to get his vengeance against the emperor.

This film has probably one of the best written screenplay I have ever seen.  The dialogue the entire way through is captivating.  Not only is the dialogue between characters that makes for engaging conversations, but there are truly spectacular monologues here that are famous for their drama, and rightfully so.  Both Russel Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix deliver some amazing lines here.  And that is what makes this film so great to me.

Yes the battle scenes and gladiatorial fight scenes are well out together, well shot and well-choreographed, but the fight scenes are not the point of the story.  They are what stops an otherwise political thriller from being dull however.  The action breaks up what would otherwise be a lot of exposition and albeit terrific speech giving. 

It isn’t often in a film where Joaquin Phoenix plays a main character that he is upstaged by a co-actor.  But Russel Crowe really is the tour-de-force behind this film.  He gives a rousing performance as Maximus, and while he didn’t necessarily get the ending I hoped for, he did in his own way get a happy ending.  That isn’t to say the Phoenix didn’t give 100% a great performance, he gives 100% of himself to every role, and this one is no different, he was still the focal point of every scene he was in, but, just this once, Russel Crowe stole the show for me, and trust me, when it comes to Russel Crowe, this is a MAJOR achievement.

I did not expect to love this film as much as I did, I figured it was going to be another over hyped Oscar bait film that I could have done without, but much to my chagrin, I loved it a whole lot.  If like me you have been putting this off for one reason or another, I urge you to put your assumptions to one side and just give it a chance, it won’t take long before the film completely wins you over.