Maximus is a powerful Roman general, loved by the people and the aging Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before his death, the Emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus, and a power struggle leaves Maximus and his family condemned to death. The powerful general is unable to save his family, and his loss of will allows him to get captured and put into the Gladiator games until he dies. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top so that he will be able to look into the eyes of the man who will feel his revenge.

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Gladiator is not just director Ridley Scott's ultimate masterpiece ( And i am also keeping the fantastic Alien & Blade Runner in mind when i say this ), it is also undoubtedly one of the most viscerally effective and emotionally compelling of motion pictures ever made. It plays somewhat like a modern Ben-Hur, as a very respectable character is forced into slavery due to him standing up for what is right. Of course, being a much more modern epic, the editing is a lot quicker, as is the entire pace of the picture. However,with 171 minutes playtime in the extended edition, Scott doesn't haste through this picture, and takes his time to set up his characters & their respective arcs. Gladiator is however not a flawless film, as several action sequences ( Particularly in the introduction in the battle of Germania ) feature quite a lot of shaky cam and quick editing, but admittedly this is nowhere near as bad as something like Taken or The Bourne Trilogy. Most of the action sequences are superbly edited, with widescreen shots to create an overview, combined with mediums to immerse the viewer into the action. A couple of times there is a shakycam shot in the middle of this, but it's a very minor issue. Another minor fault is in some of the backdrops. The 'Am i not merciful' scene features an obvious greenscreen, saturated a bit too brightly, and Proximo is obviously not physically there near the end of the film ( When actor Oliver Reed had already died ). Again these minor issues feature only in 1 scene respectively, and therefore do not really do anything to truly diminish the cinematic power that Gladiator provides. On the whole, the cinematography & art direction of Gladiator is impeccable. It is not the best, since as stated before there are a couple of lesser backdrops easily recognizable as greenscreens, but for most of the picture the viewer is subjected to beautiful angles, backdrops & sets. The scenes in Zuccabar are an example of the seductive natural beauty Gladiator provides, and Maximus's ride to his family after his execution attempt also feature some stunning environmental shots. Sets are elegantly crafted and varied in a beautiful color palette, becoming most apparent in Commodus's & Lucilla's scenes. The titanic image of the Colosseum is also one that is difficult to get rid of, despite the fact that i believe it was filmed in full CGI, but apart from perhaps the absolute final shot ( Burying the sculptures ), that is hardly noticable. The art of acting is utilized at its finest in Gladiator, with three absolute superb performances by leads Russel Crowe as Maximus, Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus & Connie Nielsen as Lucilla. Not to mention the fantastic supporting performances of legendary actor Richard Harris & Oliver Reed. Crowe is the epitome of a brick of stoic masculinity, yet he gave an utterly convincing and extended sob fest when gazing upon the sight of his crucified family, showing us his versatility as an actor. We see him win a battle against Germanians through his discipline, intelligence and courage, and we are rooting for his character from this moment forth. He is in his heart a simple man that just wants to go home to his family, but he is also honor bound to Rome, and proves this through his courageous actions. Not interested by the corruptions of power, he lives only to see justice done. Phoenix is superb as the corrupted emperor, showing us his envy of Maximus simply with one look into the eyes ( Look at Phoenix's superb facial acting in the scene where Maximus reveals himself to him in the arena ), his arrogance & his brutality. Nielsen is also quite underrated, as her disguised fear during every scene with her brother after their father's death is a stunning feat of acting within acting, culminating with her utter terror at the end when Commodus demands a 'pure blood' heir with her. Of course one cannot forget Hans Zimmer's fantastic contribution to his masterpiece, creating arguably his finest score to date, with this especially being the case during the transition between the (Again) 'Am i not merciful' scene and the shots of the arena. Obviously 'Now we are free' is also one of the most emotionally powerful scores ever created. It is also one of Zimmer's most varied scores, as a slight criticism of him is often his repeated melodies ( Admittedly, a lot of the themes in Gladiator still sound similar to The Rock, but a lot of them also do not ). In any case, it is rare to imagine the brilliance and emotional resonance of Gladiator without Zimmer's score. While the narrative is fairly straightforward as a revenge story, the dialogue written is superb, with many incredible lines such as 'What we do in life, echoes in eternity', not to mention the slow character development and character arcs, even within seemingly minor characters like Proximo & Quintus ( You will need to see the extended edition to witness Quintus's arc ) who have their original ideals challenged and overcome throughout the events in the film. Even though Maximus's sole purpose in life has become to kill Commodus in revenge for his family, it is in a way a very hopeful film. A film about standing up for what is right, and being granted redemption and a reunion with loved ones in the end. Maximus does not want to rule Rome, but in slaying Commodus, he secures the feature of it for is people, while also acquiring his personal goal. He demands respect for his valor and his morals throughout the film, and this makes sure that we as an audience are emotionally drained by the time he enters the Elysium fields, and is hailed as a hero by the people of Rome, and a hero he was. One of the all-time greats of epic motion pictures, Gladiator features impeccable acting, writing ,cinematography, art direction & a phenomenal original score. It also features possibly the most relatable main character ever written, which is partly why there are very little films that can equal the emotional power that Gladiator creates.

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