picked up five Academy Awards® and tells the story of Maximus Decimus (played by Russell Crowe), a Roman general who is betrayed by the corrupt prince Commodus. Captured and enslaved along the outer fringes of the Roman Empire, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murders of his family and his emperor.
This format defining release is presented on two BD 50 dual-layer discs and includes 11 hours of extra content. The first disc will include both the theatrical and extended version of the film, audio commentary, deleted scenes and the Vision of Elysium: Topic Portal
, a new U-Control feature that allows viewers to tag moments of interest throughout the film and create a "shopping list" of topics to learn about in the supplements on disc two. The second disc also includes Strength and Honour: Creating the World of Gladiator
, the definitive documentary on the origin, product and impact of the film.
A big-budget summer epic with money to burn and a scale worthy of its golden Hollywood predecessors, Ridley Scott's Gladiator
is a rousing, grisly, action-packed epic that takes moviemaking back to the Roman Empire via computer-generated visual effects. While not as fluid as the computer work done for, say, Titanic,
it's an impressive achievement that will leave you marveling at the glory that was Rome, when you're not marveling at the glory that is Russell Crowe
. Starring as the heroic general Maximus, Crowe firmly cements his star status both in terms of screen presence and acting chops, carrying the film on his decidedly non-computer-generated shoulders as he goes from brave general to wounded fugitive to stoic slave to gladiator hero. Gladiator's plot is a whirlwind of faux-Shakespearean machinations of death, betrayal, power plays, and secret identities (with lots of faux-Shakespearean dialogue ladled on to keep the proceedings appropriately "classical"), but it's all briskly shot, edited, and paced with a contemporary sensibility. Even the action scenes, somewhat muted but graphic in terms of implied violence and liberal bloodletting, are shot with a veracity that brings to mind--believe it or not--Saving Private Ryan
, even if everyone is wearing a toga. As Crowe's nemesis, the evil emperor Commodus, Joaquin Phoenix
chews scenery with authority, whether he's damning Maximus's popularity with the Roman mobs or lusting after his sister Lucilla (beautiful but distant Connie Nielsen); Oliver Reed, in his last role, hits the perfect notes of camp and gravitas as the slave owner who rescues Maximus from death and turns him into a coliseum star. Director Scott's visual flair is abundantly in evidence, with breathtaking shots and beautiful (albeit digital) landscapes, but it's Crowe's star power that will keep you in thrall--he's a true gladiator, worthy of his legendary status. Hail the conquering hero! --Mark Englehart
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