For the glory of Rome, a hero will rise.

This is one excellent epic film. GLADIATOR will give you almost 3 hours of excitement, thrills and adventure that will absolutely amaze you. Ridley Scott has finally made a film that challenges BLADE RUNNER as his best film. He has made a wonderful to show what happened in Rome after the death of Marcus Aurelius.

The film opens with a spectacular battle scene that rivals those in BRAVEHEART. The battle scenes and scenes later in the film force me not to recommend this for children. I think you will find to violent for children under 13. The battle arena introduces us to the aging, almost dying Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) and his most trusted General Maximus Meridius (Russell Crowe). Maximus is the son that the Emperor always wanted, a son unlike the cowardly Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), the emperor's 20 year old son. Maximus has made the emperor proud in defeating the Germans. This is just another battle that has made Maximus a respected and undefeated Roman general; a Spaniard that has never been to Rome.

Commodus and his sister, Lucilla (Connie Nelson) arrive on the battle field only to witness the end of the battle and the the soldiers' great respect for Maximus. The hardest thing for him to witness is his Marcus' great respect for Maximus whom he sees as his son and heir to his throne. Maximus on the other hand only has a longing to return home to his wife Sellina, his son and the family olive oil business. Commodus realizes what is going to happen and pleads with his father only to be rebuked. Commodus commits patricide before the Emperor is able to appoint Maximus to Potector of Rome. Commodus orders that Maximus be executed after the general refuses to accept him as the new emperor. He is framed for Marcus Aurelius' death. He escapes and tries to make his way back home to save his family who will surely be destroyed by Commodus' command. He is too late and gets captured by slavers. He is sold to Proximo, played beautifully by the late Oliver Reed. Proximo is a freed gladiator who now runs a gladiator school and takes an instant liking to Maximus. During many battles in the gladiatorial rings Maximus shows his prowess as a great fighter and quickly attracts the loyality of the others.

In Rome, Commodus has earned the disdain of the senators and even his sister and worst of all his subjects do not really care for him. He decides to keep the minds of the unhappy subjects off him by giving then BREAD AND CIRCUSES. He decides on 150 days of celebration in the Coluseum by giving them bread and gladiators. These gladiators would fight to the death against other gladiators, soldiers and even ferious animals. This was supposed to make him respected by his people unfortunately a gladiator of great prowess known as The Spaniard over shadows the insane Emperor. The consequences make for an incredible story that you will have to go and see because I do not want to say much more about GLADIATOR.

'Hail Emperor, those who are about to die salute you.'

You will see superb photography, scenery, battles, bravery, betrayals and much death. Most of all you will see some great acting in . Russell Crowe who sounds a lot like Mel GIbson in this movie is just great. You may remember that he also starred in THE INSIDER, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and many more. Richard Harris is his usually wonderful self as Marcus Aurelius. What was great to see was Oliver Reed in his last role. He played Proximo brilliantly and I am happy to say that his last role was probably one of his best. Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus was very good and portrayed him with just the right amount of insanity. Other notables are Djimon Hounsou who plays the African gladiator, Juba and Ralph Moeller a giant gladiator who stars on television show Conan. The only thing that would make this movie any better would be viewing it in an old, huge palace theatre like all those wonderful epics of the past such as BEN HUR and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Oh well, one can dream right? See you at the movies.

Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix , Connie Nielsen , Oliver Reed , Djimon Hounsou, Spencer Treat Clark
Ridley Scott
David H. Franzoni
David H. Franzoni , Douglas Wick and Steven Spielberg
Dreamworks Distribution
RATING USA... Rated R for intense graphic combat
RATING CANADA... Rated AA for graphic violence
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