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Film Review - Gladiator
Oh my God! Was Kevin Costner somehow involved with this film? Epic? Yes. Spectacle? Yes. Too Damned Long? Yes!
Gladiator is what Hollywood does best. It's a big wide fantasy of the Roman Empire at its peak. Everything is large, nothing subtle. The story revolves around Maximus a General conquering the Empire's final enemy. Maximus is a little too good at what he does. The dieing Emperor has decided to name Maximus as his successor over his own son. The son, Commodus, kills his father, and orders Maximus to be executed, leaving himself the new Caesar.
But of course that would make a short film. Maximus escapes, is enslaved, and becomes a Gladiator. The bulk of the film, is Maximus' personal combats in arenas and finally the Roman Coliseum. Unfortunately, this is the weakness of the film. Gladiator becomes boring. We're required to look at one hacking match after another. The real conflict between Maximus and Commodus isn't nearly as juicy as it should be. Commodus is, quite frankly, a wuss. He's a pansy who was in the right place in the right time. He's not evil enough. Instead we laugh at some of his dialogue, dialogue we were not meant to laugh at. ("They love him more than me!") I began thinking of Ra in Stargate. He should be the most interesting character, but was cheated by the writer.
What works in the film is how big it really is. The opening battle in Germania is the classic Hollywood spectacle. Hundreds of extras battling in a burning forest. The re-creation of Roman is flawless and this eye candy is great for 30 to 40 minutes or so. But Gladiator is 2 hours and 40 minutes long!
Clearly, there is too little story for a film this size. Even the hack and slash matches in the Colisum get tedious. In fact the final battle, sword combat between Maximus and Commodus, is boring, and to a point, anti-climatic.
Gladiator is definitely a film to be seen on a big screen. However, you do want to see it at bargain matinee. It is 40 minutes too long and is not worth nine bucks.
Directed by Ridley Scott
Released in 2000
MPAA Rating: R
Reviewed by Mongo