Directed by Ridley Scott.
Written by David Franzoni, John Logan and William Nicholson.
Starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix and Connie Nielsen.
Release Year: 2000
Review Date: 5/6/00
The summer movie season has begun! What
better way to break in the new summer than with a big-budget action
movie? Since I am flying to see Fayette "New Kent" Powers today in
YO, MIAMI? SHIT, IS MIAMI OUR NATION'S
GREATEST CITY, OR WHAT?
I must admit, Miami is probably my favorite
place to go; three words, my friends: the clubs are phlat-out hot!
Anyway, I figured I would slap this review together before hopping a
plane and experiencing the best shopping and sights (of beautiful
people, of which I am not one) that an e-saver can buy.
Charles "The Fox" Longer, his
always-engaging girlfriend Teresa, Jordan "Jaybee" Benjamin, and
your hero and mine, Gordon "The Professional" Stokes went to catch
"Gladiator" over at DC's mecca theater, the Uptown (and, Bellview
member Robin "Swingin' for the Fences" Pinnel was in the house as
well). Thanks to the quick wits of the Longer, we bought tickets
online through Moviefone.com about 30 minutes before they sold out
at the box office. And, our crowd, the rowdy sold-out audience, and
one hell of a movie came out to Bellview's highest rating: Opening
Russell Crowe (I want to reiterate the name
of Crowe's American debut, also unofficially known as Denzel's worst
movie ever: "Virtuosity") has officially made it to the big time.
He carries the whole movie on his back as Maximus, the general of
the Roman army around 180 AD that leads his troops to victory after
victory across the continent. When the current Caesar (Richard
Harris, "Unforgiven" amongst other things) has to make a decision
over who will become the next emperor of the kingdom, he prefers
Maximus over his own son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), since Commodus
is planning to form his rule over his personal vision, rather than
the vision of the people of Rome. Commodus becomes wise to the plan
and kills his father before Maximus can accept the throne; in the
same night, Commodus (the heir to the throne, and therefore, the new
emperor) orders Maximus to be killed immediately.
Being that this is a movie, Maximus escapes
certain death only to be captured and forced into slavery. With the
help of Proximus (Oliver Reed), a former gladiator and current slave
trader, Maximus becomes a bad-ass gladiator in tune-up battles in
some smaller Roman provinces before taking on the big-time:
fighting gladiator battles in the Colosseum of Rome, with the
opportunity of exacting vengeance on the man that forced him into
Now, I'm leaving a lot of the plot details
out because Bellview policy states that I won't ruin the movie for
you in these reviews. But, of things that I will talk about, first
off is Crowe. After playing a fat bastard in his Oscar-nominated
role and film "The Insider", he dropped 40 pounds and looks like he
lifted weights everyday to play the title character of this movie.
I think this is a win-win for the sex debate: this is clearly being
marketed as a guy movie...and, from the two females that were in our
party, Crowe was looking pretty hot and more than kept their
attention. But, since Crowe is a great actor, he plays the dramatic
scenes very well and you really get behind him and his quest for
revenge. Secondly, the story. Lest you think this is just a
straight "The Last of the Mohicans"/"Braveheart" ripoff, you should
know that this movie has a better story than both. I was expecting
to just sit back and watch heads get lopped off for two hours, but
instead, I got a 150-minute movie with a bunch of story and a couple
of interesting sideplots to follow when Maximus wasn't whoopin' ass
in the arenas. A very pleasant surprise. And, the music was really
rousing, in my mind...but, the legendary "The Last of the Mohicans"
soundtrack is still better than the tunes here.
Now, you ask, how were those battle scenes?
In my mind, very, very well done. The best part about them is the
camerawork. Although you can tell that people are getting impaled,
gutted, crushed, etc., the camera is moving just fast enough for you
to see the action taking place without really seeing how bloody a
chariot driver's flattened body really is. Now, don't get me
wrong: heads are flying on some occasions (the best being the
absolutely awesome Maximus two-handed sword maneuver in his second
provincial battle scene--the audience in our theater was cheering),
arms are lopped off, torsos are split and a lot of people get a
sword in the chest. But, in movies like "The 13th Warrior", it felt
gratuitous; here, it seemed like there was some semblance of a
purpose. And, the battle scenes in Rome are all pretty much
awesome, and the feeling that the Colosseum battles were like
playing in the Super Bowl struck me as a funny irony to how Proximo
talked about the events, with his "50,000 members of a screaming
mob" soliloquy. Great stuff.
Any negatives? Well, it is a bit long, and
I guess that I didn't think about it until I needed to hit the head
like it was my day job for the last hour and a half of the movie.
NOTE TO SELF: USE THE BATHROOM BEFORE THIS MOVIE STARTS! And, some
of how this movie works reminded me a lot of "Blade", the Wesley
Snipes/Stephen Dorff action movie from '98. Dorff could have played
the Commodus role a bit better than Phoenix did...but, this is a
See this movie with a big audience...you'll
feel like you are in the Colosseum cheering the good guys on
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard