James Milstead’s review published on Letterboxd:
D: Ridley Scott
Universal/Dreamworks/Scott Free (Douglas Wick, David Franzoni & Branko Lustig)
USA 🇺🇸 2000
W: David Franzoni, John Logan & William Nicholson
DP: John Mathieson
Ed: Pietro Scalia
Mus: Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard
PD: Arthur Max
Cos: Janty Yates
Russell Crowe (Maximus Decimus Meridias), Joaquin Phoenix (Commodus), Connie Nielsen (Lucilla), Oliver Reed (Proximo), Derek Jacobi (Gracchus), Djimon Hounsou (Juba), Richard Harris (Marcus Aurelius), David Schofield (Falco), John Shrapnel (Gaius), Tomas Arana (Quintus), Ralf Moeller (Hagan), Spencer Treat Clark (Lucius)
In the times of the Roman Empire, a general is betrayed by a tyrannical Emperor and sold into slavery, where he fights for his freedom and, ultimately, revenge.
Gladiator is a lavish, spectacular epic which revitalised a dormant genre and captured the hearts & minds of many, and while it's a magnificently produced piece of work, it's not quite the champion it's hailed as being, and certainly not deserving of the heaps of Oscars praised upon it. Firstly, it's at least half-an-hour too long, mostly due to an elongated start and a few narrative drags towards the end of the second act. The performances are generally good, but this is far from Russell Crowe's best work (the Australian accent doesn't help), while Joaquin Phoenix is incredibly hammy- which he only gets away with because the character calls for it, but the best performance on show goes to Oliver Reed, with his final screen portrayal and arguably his finest ever performance.
Visually, the recreation of Ancient Rome, the Colisseum and all aspects of the production are brilliantly reconstructed and photographed, although some effects aren't quite as convincing (the scenes involving tigers are a good example), but all the technical achievements are generally top notch, especially the stirring music by Hans Zimmer, with haunting vocal arrangements by Lisa Gerrard.