We follow Russell Crowe over one step and down a couple notches of quality to Galdiator, the 2000 Best Picture Oscar winner which thanks its lucky stars the competition was weak that year.
Crowe plays Maximus, a loyal Roman general who is betrayed when the emperor is killed by his ambitious, but psychotic son, Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix. Maximus fids himself bound into slavery and must fight his way up the gladiatorial ranks in order to avenge his his family and his emperor
The battle sequences are intensely exciting and Phoenix is a particular stand out as the evil Commodus, but there is nothing that elevates Gladiator to the level of classic it was touted to be. It certainly does not rise to the level of epic that Spartacus or Beh Hurr managed in the old days of Hollywood. As proof, I note the genre revival never got off the ground in the ’00’s because of Gladiator as many critics predicted.
Glaiator is a good action film. A guy movie with a brain, as it were. But beyond being a night’s worth of frivolous entertainment, there is not much else there. Gladiator is going to go down as the same kind of Best Picture Oscar winner as 2005’s Crash--the answer to a trivia question no one can ever get right.
Gladiator launched Crowe into stardom. For that, I am grateful. Her has had much better roles subsequently. I believe the character of Maximus has been puffed up over the years because of it.
Ratig: *** (out of 5)