It`s that kind of movie. The one full of blood, guts and glory where the protagonist gets to spout rousing speeches: "I am Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, Loyal Servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius, Father to a murdered son, Husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance in this life or the next!" Kya line maara hai, bhai sahib!
`Gladiator`, an epic adventure set during the ancient Roman Empire, is full of such soul stirring speeches. It`s also full of grand spectacle and visual sweep. Directed by 73 year old Ridley Scott, `Gladiator` is a Big Budget movie with thousands of extras and lavish sets. Australian Russell Crowe plays General Maximus who, at the beginning of the movie, has just led the Roman legions to a victory over the Germanic hordes. He is summoned to Rome to the bedside of the dying Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) where he is appointed successor and commissioned to bring democracy to Rome. Alas, sonny boy Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) has other plans. This effete and evil megalomaniac commits patricide, orders the execution of Maximus and then proceeds to wipe out his family.
Maximus manages to escape but is sold into slavery to Proximo (the late Oliver Reed). He is then trained as a gladiator and fights for his life in Rome`s Colosseum against a seemingly unending stream of fierce opponents (both man and beast), hell-bent on killing him. All the while he bides his revenge.
This is grand spectacle at its best. A visually astonishing film with the opening montage setting the tone. A cast of about a thousand, butcher each other with visceral gore and primal ferocity. The violence is brutal and graphic; definitely not a Sunday movie for the family. But, `Gladiator` rivetting, stirring and worth watching just for its visual opulence.
Rating: The first grand historical film to come out of Hollywood in a looooong time. It`s the Roman `Braveheart` but more slick, sleeker and polished. One word - Spectacular!