Gladiator (2000)     or was it    

Ridley Scott

The costumes were splendid from the armor to the royal outfits. And you certainly can't beat the exquisite Roman decor of dark mahogany furniture, glorious drapery (all very flammable), plumage and purple, lots of purple. There's nothing like appropriately used purple in furniture and on people. “and all the while dressed in the height of Roman fashion.” That said, I felt as angry at Ridley Scott (believe it or not...there was a director) as I felt when Ford merged with (I obviously drive a) Volvo.

The fighting was horrible. It was all close ups with no medium range shots, just a mess of disjointed cuts. This technique reminds me of bad rock bands trying to hide behind a bunch of distortion and other distractions. Scott should take some lessons from, oh, say any other film director of any other action film ever. Even in the one on one fights, where you might expect them to actually have some good choreography, this herky jerky MTV video crap still ruled the day. I could get better fight scenes on my Sega action system. And I don't even have a Sega action system. God, even the new George Lucas could have made better fight scenes. Three good parts in the fighting, however, were the early morning star in the face, the chariots with dangerous spokes and the part where Maximus runs out and kills them all quickly. Yee-ha. Now imagine that same scene at your neighborhood brothel. 'Oh my god, Louanne. There's so many of them. Let's do it.' 'Is this not what you wanted?'

Here are the ingredients that could have made a great movie:
Russel Crowe: Talk about an ingredient. Convincing. Brooding. All hail Maximus.

Commodus: Whoever he was (since my original post, I've been told it was Joaquin Phoenix, brother of River Phoenix, Son of Mr. Phoenix, or as I said, whoever he was) did an okay job at being evil and disturb-ed. And besides, every film reviewer must praise the villain's acting.

Maximus' Dog: Terrific dog acting, running through the forest, biting barbarian hands. Brings back memories of Rin Tin Tin and even Tiger from the Brady Bunch. I would have stolen Cindy's Kitty Caraway doll too, only I wouldn't have hidden it in the dog house where those idiots could find it. I would have chewed that stupid doll into a thousand lifeless pieces.

Little Boy from Life Is Beautiful: Great job getting trampled. Totally convincing. Recalls performance of little boy as a young Conan. Does all his own stunts. Doesn't complain about conditions on set. Never brings twenty-two year old girlfriend on set and leaves her in dressing room with half a bag of cocaine. Takes direction.
This movie tries for too much and ultimately fails just like a Roman Empire. And it lasts about as long as one too. I was actually in the Roman Empire, and this film just doesn't capture what it was really like. You'd think that having every character in the movie ask “What is Rome?” six times would be enough, but clearly, they needed to ask it seven times. Also, the attempt to depict Rome's vastness with digital aerial shots and the like is undermined by an excess of poorly scripted intimate scenes and a bad subplot. This is hardly the great Roman Empire I fought and died for. The list of movies that this was not as good as includes Ben Hur, Spartacus, Conan the Barbarian and Baveheart.

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