The last ten years has not been a Golden Age for the Epic film genre. I can think of a few films that might be considered epics. You had Braveheart, Titanic, maybe Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and a couple of war movies (Saving
Private Ryan and the great Thin Red Line) and that's about it off the top of my head. Now some of these are good or even great movies but it does equal the 50's and 60's with their arsenal of classics like Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, Spartacus and many others. But that might be the point of an epic, a film that doesn't come that often and when it does, that's the film to see. If that's what an epic is, Gladiator is the greatest true Epic of the last ten years.

    ††† Russell Crowe takes on the role of Maximus, the loyal, fictional Roman General who has fallen from grace and become a slave.Joaquin Phoenix is the newly anointed Caesar of Rome, Commodus, who is the cause of Maximus' downfall. The film focuses on his rise from the bottom to the height of popularity. The immense warriors go against Maximus and the hero takes them down.He is the true savior of greatness.

   †††† Imagery and sets are the pride and joy of this film. In my mind they are more realistic then any other Roman set I've ever see. Every detail is perfect, whether it is the 100's of statues that surround the Coliseum or a tree in the forests of Germania. The costumes are amazing as well. They are supremely crafted with every detail taken care of.

   †††† Besides having and setting the look of all future epics to be compared to, it has two great, young actors and put them head to head, Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix.This pairing is a perfect equilibrium in acting.Phoenix is the more loud crazy, emotional villain.Crowe is the silent but deadly hero.

   †††† Then on top of all it's other greatness, the film goes above and beyond with it's richly textured, heart pounding, long winded battle sequences. You have a very in-depth high speed filming of a war with the Germanic Barbarians or a Gladiatoric reenactment of the war of Carthage. Displaying of war wounds are extensive in this film, whether it is a slice taken out of the gut of a Germanic barbarian soldier, or the head being being decapitated from a female gladiator. Anyway you look at it, it truly feels like you're right in the middle of a war zone.

         Director Ridley Scott brings all the factors together and makes a 2 and 1/2 hour masterpiece. That makes it 30 minutes less than most of last year's Oscar contenders. The action scenes are perfectly crafted with a touch that only the man who brought visions like Bladerunner and Alien were made.

†††† Gladiator is Spartacus on steroids, with higher intensity and more gore. It movie will fulfill a man's lust to see action, blood, and guts.Oh yeah! Plus a great story supplements the flick for those who donít like the intense, action sequences.

††††  Gladiator is what a film should be, strong at all points: plot, acting, settings, music and a script.The dialog is especially strong and very well written. The edge of this film comes from the main female lead not being a total waste, she's not submissive or dumb like the regular female character in an action film.Connie Nielsen (Mission to Mars, and the hot red haired temptress in The Devil's Advocate) is beautiful, true, smart and intelligent.
Russell Crowe was astonishing as Maximus. Beautiful settings, and computer animation to bring Rome to life. The film is exhilarating.

†††† Russell Crowe has been better in his few recent roles (The Insider, Mystery, Alaska, and L.A. Confidential), then any other actor I've seen in a long time.His screen presence is precisely what is needed in a film.My ideal role for him was Wolverine in the upcoming X-Men.This amazing Aussie was born for it.But Gladiator was the next best thing for him.In this film he doesnít have to share the spotlight, he's the front man, not a supporting cast member.This is hopefully just another step for Australia's best export and he better get a nomination come Oscar time or someone will have hell to pay. Forget Mel "fucking" Gibson,  Russell rules!

Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars
Reviewed by Joe Soria
Rated R for extreme gore, violence, and a bit of bad language.
Running Time: 154 minutes

A great soundtrack from the compser that constructed the music for The Rock, Hans Zimmer.  

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