copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

What is cool about Gladiator (besides a whole lot of things) is that it should not offend pro- or anti-Romans. There have been a number of big movies, almost since the beginning of movies, that put Rome into the evil category. This choice echoes he popular anti-Imperial culture of the 20th and 21st century that favors freedom over unity and order. Sorry, I will stop if that sounds preachy, but the point is: Gladiator gives both sides of the argument and also shows that it is not about the bad and the good sides but rather the bad and the good in the individuals.

Gladiator is not the most historically accurate film. After all, they put a whole lot of story conveniently into the events for which there are very few sources for reference. And of course the armor that the soldiers are wearing is not going to be perfectly accurate, and of course everything is pumped up for excitement’s sake. But it actually does a great deal right and looks genuine. The politics get smart toward the middle of the film. This film has depth and at the same time it is not hard to understand.

Disguised under all the pomp and depth there is hidden a fairly typical formula for an action movie with a good and a bad guy, a family member in danger, a personal loss, a cheesy honor speech, and of course a mano-a-mano fight, but it is hidden and packaged very well.

Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus is not the protagonist but is arguably the main character of the film. The "evil" in his character is so refined, deep, believable and even relatable. The cowardice is palpable. He feels like a complex character that creates a good contrast to Russel Crowe's Gladiator, the simpleton soldier with his honor, love and anger issues. Oliver Reed as the gladiator owner was also really good and expressive.

The camera work is excellent. The busy sets are filled with good lighting and shots are properly populated, with good atmosphere from all the various fires, mist and snow. Computer generated effects are unfortunately used quite a bit, as the makers would have had a hard time showing the Roman scale without it and yes, some of these effects look dated, but those shots are not shown for long and overall it works.

The soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer is actually not the best if you listen to it on its own but works really well in this movie, especially in battles. It brings the necessary gravity to everything. Speaking of listening to the soundtrack on its own, do try "The Might of Rome" when visiting a large city - awesome. Lisa Gerrard brought her voice which is a great recognizable emotional deep contralto, though her main presence in this movie is saved for the credits.

The movie is totally rewatchable, and in fact, the second time may reveal many new nuances in the dialogue you may have missed the first time, especially if you are watching the extended addition (which you should).

As time passed after its release, this movie was increasingly becoming a hype. Internet memes were being made from it. People kept asking me to make Maximus' armor for a game. This plebeian hype made me increasingly dislike this film by extension, but the fact is that this is a very well-made enjoyable movie.