Reviewed on 2009 November 30
Beautifully filmed story of revenge, ancient Rome, and of course… gladiators.
Maximus (Russell Crowe) is the ultimate soldier, loved by his army and by Marcus Aurelius Caesar (Richard Harris). After one of director Ridley Scott’s epic battles — that manages to be brutal without being sickening — Marcus Aurelius wants nothing more than to pass the crown from his weary head to Maximus’s level one. But there’s a jealous rival: Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), Marcus’s son. Marcus describes Commodus as immoral; and when a father describes his own boy that way we know there’s a problem. Sure enough, Commodus does not react well, and sets in motion a struggle for Maximus that rivals anything endured by Odysseus.
Ridley Scott is good at BIG without creeping into overblown, and he created one of my favorite movies with this. Lots of great dialogue (after you see the movie, read about the battles about that in the IMDb trivia section), great acting from Crowe and an incredible performance from Phoenix, and a great, final bit from Oliver Reed as Proximo. Good music, good costuming; I can’t think of a gripe anyone can have with this film.
Four chocolate morsels.