The supreme commander of the Roman legions is picked by the dying emperor to succeed him. The emperor's son has other ideas, resulting in the general ending up as a slave, then a gladiator. The new emperor, keen to win favour with the Romans, declares six months of gladiator games, which gives our hero a chance to go to Rome and seek vengeance...
No persons under 16 (Violence)
Action, Drama, Male conflict & bonding, War
At my command, unleash hell!
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielson, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou
|Screenplay||David H. Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson|
|Music||Hans Zimmer, Klaus Badelt, Lisa Gerrard|
|Sound formats||Dolby Digital, Sony Dynamic Digital Sound, DTS|
|SA distributor|| UIP|
|Produced by||Scott Free Productions, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks SKG|
What the Critics say
|Movies for Africa|
|The Cape Times|
|SAfm Saturday Wired|
What the People say
Average .. 76%
|Philip Cook ||18|
|Andre Swanepoel ||16|
|Ian Woodrow ||16|
|Robert Kinghost ||20|
|Wayne Dodgen ||16|
|Alan Epstein ||18|
|Jeremie Dupont ||16|
|Sharon Gov ||16|
|Wayne Huggett ||18|
|Leon Treurnich ||16|
|Louis de Klerk ||20|
|Walt Chu ||20|
|Debbie Ross ||20|
|Geert De Sutter ||1|
|Aska Uota ||19|
Average .. 84%
Dion Scher (26): I really enjoyed this movie. Not since Braveheart have we had a decent Epic and this one certainly does the job. Super action sequences and a gripping plot make this one of the top movies of the year so far.
Philip Cook (35): A moving film with great performances and stunning action. Russel Crowe is just brilliant and visually the fiilm just takes you breathe away.
Andre Swanepoel: A flash back to the shows of the 50's and 60's. Excellent subtle special effects (scenery, etc.) and a good alround show. Not for those afraid of blood and gore though.
Ian Woodrow: Most enjoyable. Has enough gore and intrigue to appeal to a wide audience. The more cerebral among us will be the first to carp, but there are fine performances from Crowe, Phoenix and even Reed. Definitely worth watching. Don't wait for the video - this is a big screen movie.
Robert Kinghost (23): I loved it...almost as good as brave heart!!
Jeremie Dupon (23): Excellent movie!!
Sharon Gov (27): Excellent, not what I expected at all.
Leon Treurnich (31): Gruesome! (literally). You can't help but like the good guy, and you certainly can't help to hate the bad guy - he even looks like someone who's face you want to bash into his skull... sorry, the movie does that to you. Unlike Braveheart you don't feel like storming out of the cinema at the end, but the feelings of eventual triumph are just as strongly left with you. Watch out for Russell Crowe - he was good in LA Confidential and is good here too.
Louis de Klerk (23): Provides some insight into the mind and character of ancient Rome, its politics and a good impression of ancient warfare. Russell Crowe delivers a solid, good performance. Brilliant Graphics and directing.
Nic (17): LADIATOR, I salute you. It's by miles, not by light years the best movie I've EVER experienced and it's still haunting me even after I went to see it for the 5th time today.
Walt Chu (26): Excellent story and somthing different.
Geert De Sutter (19): Too long!!
Aska Uota (19): This movie is the best I have seen and I believe that it's a movie with so much to say. I think Russell Crowe has proofed himself. As wel as J.Phonix. This is a movie I would watch over and over again. Very, very good!!!
Ian Douglas: I saw this film yesterday morning and it is still haunting me, a day and a half later. And I don't know why.
Maybe it was the violence of the combat scenes, which were graphic and gruesome. But it is more than that. In fact, writing these comments is an attempt to get my thoughts
out of my head and find some peace.
After the film I was in two minds as to whether I had just witnessed a major cinematic event, or ''just another action flick''.
The storyline somehow reminded me of both Ben Hur and Braveheart. Maybe it was more the ''feel'' and emotions of those stories than the actual plotline, although Ben Hur did certainly have some similarities.
In brief, the supreme commander of the Roman legions is sentenced to death by the new emperor, but manages to escape. He arrives home to find his home and family destroyed. He is captured by a slave trader and ends up as a successful gladiator, which provides an opportunity to go to Rome and seek vengeance.
There are some niggling elements in the plot, but overall, it has less holes than most efforts from Hollywood.
While the trailer and marketing plays up the action and epic elements, this is (IMHO) not really a kiddie or teenager movie - the subtext is way beyond that. It should find its most satisfied viewers amongst young and older adults.
The characters are almost all drawn in delicate shades of grey, making for really complex interplays between them.
One of the things I found fascinating -- and which will probably be the reason that the film may stick around in the public mind longer than most -- was the discussion of politics which seemed aimed squarely at the American government. All the talk about giving power back to the people, and limiting the power of the Emperor aka the President. We even get to see the Emp sitting on his throne, while behind him is his official seal. The analogy between that scene, and the US Prez making speeches with his nearly-identical seal either behind him on the wall or in front of him on the podium cannot be missed.
Which had me wondering about other analogies between the two empires, and whether or not they are related. And if the film was hinting at some of them. Shades of the Illuminata and all that...
One thing which bothered me was the curious scarcity of slaves in the royal household, and the desire of the Emp for his sister, when surely he could have chosen from amongst dozens of available female slaves. Also, the Roman uniforms were black rather than the familiar red, maybe they changed during the time from Christ to 180 AD when the story is set. Or maybe, it was an allusion to the Men in Black of the US Secret Service, CIA, FBI etc...
And so, where does that leave us? The film has a decent story (even saying so itself in a self-referential dig), good performances, and is well put together. It does drag a bit at times, but that is because it is taking the necessary steps to build the plot.
I enjoyed it and would like to see it again, probably to better understand it. There are very few films which I want to see more than once.