Movie Review: Gladiator (2000)

by cmoneyspinner

It's been over a decade since Gladiator (2000), starring Russell Crowe, was released and its intense appeal has not dwindled or died out. It is still worthwhile viewing. Rated R.

Gladiator (2000), starring Russell Crowe, is an outstanding cinematic achievement.

When is a movie an outstanding cinematic achievement? That is to say, when is a film so remarkably entertaining and spectacular that it merits accolades that go far beyond any compliment, notoriety or prestige the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can attach to it?

Answer: When you want to watch the movie over and repeatedly, and each time you do, from start to finish, it's still fresh!

How many movies meet this demanding criteria? In my lifetime, only one motion picture has ever made the cut. Just one. Gladiator (2000), starring Russell Crowe.

Gladiator - Gripping! Powerful! A Masterpiece!

Gladiator won 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Leading Actor.

Gladiator was released in 2000. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone called it “A Colossus of Rousing Action!”  Colossus.  Colosseum.  I get it.  But that isn't even close to an adequate description of this powerful and gripping masterpiece, brilliantly directed by Ridley Scott.


It's a story about a noble Roman General whose faithful service and loyalty to the Empire and to the Emperor whom he had loved as his own father, was rewarded with betrayal and savage treachery by a conceited jealous envious ruthless pathetic immoral successor to the throne, the real son of the Emperor.



Ruins of the Colosseum, Rome , Italy

Looks just like in the movie, only in ruins!
Colosseum in Rome

Cast of Characters - Beginning with Russell Crowe

Best Picture, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Movie and Best Actor!

Gladiator won 5 Academy Awards; Russell Crowe won the Oscar (Best Actor in a Leading Role) for playing the part the Roman General, Maximus, who became the hero because he went from being a general to a slave to a gladiator who ultimately got justice for his wife and child who were butchered at the orders of the Emperor. The Emperor Lucius who approved the murders was played by Joaquin Phoenix, another exceptional actor. The plan was for the general and his family to be killed. But it turns out that a seasoned battle-hardened sword-wielding soldier who just wants to go home to his wife and son, is not that easy to take down.

Robert Oliver Reed (1938 – 1999)

In Memory Of

Mr. Crowe's performance was the best in his entire career. Yes he is a hunk. But to be truthful, Bill Sykes is the real reason I desired to see this movie. He was the slave trader who wisely advised Maximus to win the crowd so that he could win back his freedom. I speak of none other than Mr. Robert Oliver Reed (1938 – 1999) who, sadly, passed away during the making of this film. He endeared himself to me with his memorable portrayal of a thief named Bill Sykes in the musical Oliver! Went to the theater during Christmas school break with friends to watch the movie. Yes Oliver Reed/ Bill Sykes was a bad guy but Mr. Reed won my respect and admiration as a fine professional actor. I was his loyal fan from that day forward, so Gladiator was required viewing.

Djimon Hounsou

My Favorite Character

My favorite character? Djimon Hounsou as Juba – the African slave, who befriended Maximus (Crowe) when he had been wounded, but taken as a slave since he wasn't dead meat to give to the lions. When Juba and Maximus became friends, I bonded instantly with the two of them. It was very disappointing when the two of them didn't make it out of slavery together.

Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Spencer Treat Clark

Children and grandchild of the slain Emperor

Joaquin Phoenix and Connie Nielsen, along with Spencer Treat Clark - they were Commodus and Lucilla, brother and sister, the son and daughter of Marcus Aurelius, and Lucius, Lucilla's young son – those three held their own. They were on par with Harris and Jacobi; and their acting deemed Oscar-worthy by my standards.

Derek Jacobi and Richard Harris

Honorable Veteran Actors

Derek Jacobi (Senator Gracchus) and Richard Harris (Emperor Marcus Aurelius) – veteran actors of the Shakespearean persuasion. No need to praise them. They could have done their roles with their eyes closed and never even look at the script.

Giving Credit to All Who Made the Movie Spectacular!

Everyone in the movie – stars, co-stars, supporting cast, extras – everybody contributed to take you back to the days of the ancient Roman Empire when killing and blood-spilling was just for fun! The movie is more than 10 years old, so spoiler alerts are not necessary.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

But What About the Real Historical Figures?

Marcus Aurelius really was a Roman Emperor for about 6 decades (161 - 180). He was a scholar who adhered to Stoicism, and reflected his view and perspectives about life in a writing called “Meditations”. Although he was a philanthropist and introduced social reforms, he did not like the Christians.


History says that Marcus Aurelius did nominate his own son to succeed him. Aurelius died in March 180 and Commodus – full name: Lucius Aelius Aurelius - was 19 years old when he came to the throne. He reigned from 180 - 193.  He was a mad tyrant who believed himself to the reincarnation of the demigod Hercules and that he somehow possessed superhuman strength. The people did not like him at all and they tried to kill him many many times. Each failed assassination attempt was met with some serious payback consequences. In the end, he was murdered by a hired gladiator.

Meditations (Penguin Classics)
Penguin Classics
$8.99  $4.51

Fact versus Storytelling

So even though a comparison of history versus the movie script reveals a few minor discrepancies, Gladiator is still a goooood movie!

On a star scale of one to ten, 10 being the highest rating, this film gets 100 stars!!

And the soundtrack - Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard - "Now We Are Free" - gets 1000 stars!

It is most outstanding movie of the century!!!

With the most outstanding soundtrack of the millennium!!!

Careful. This scene is bloody and violent.

But Commodus had it coming!

Gladiator Soundtrack - Now We Are Free

Best Theme Song Ever!!!

Favorite Movie Quotes

Do you Have a Favorite Quote from "Gladiator"?

If you have seen the film, do you have a favorite quote?  This one is mine:


"Don't die. They will feed you to the lions.

They are worth more than us."


I thought it was the best line because it marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Isn't that what life is all about?

Updated: 05/17/2020, cmoneyspinner
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cmoneyspinner on 03/03/2016

@arthurchappell - Agree. If you're going to have a final film, end your career on a memorable one.

arthurchappell on 03/03/2016

Great film, and a great final movie for Oliver Reed

cmoneyspinner on 10/26/2013

@EmmaSRose - You're welcome. The film is timeless.

cmoneyspinner on 09/18/2013

@marciag - The first that introduced you to Russell Crowe? That was a memorable introduction! :)

marciag on 09/18/2013

Oh man, how much I loved that movie! It was the first that introduced me to Russell Crowe.

cmoneyspinner on 08/09/2013

@Natural_Skin_Care - The fight scenes are pretty graphic. I can still hear Russell Crowe, I mean Maximus - yelling "Single Column! Single Column!"

I'm on the edge of my seat going: "Yeah! Stick together! You're the good guys!!" :)

Natural_Skin_Care on 08/09/2013

I remember watching this when it came out. My sister told me to close my mouth. The fight scenes are pretty amazing.

cmoneyspinner on 08/08/2013

@Thamisgith - Thanks for stopping by!

Thamisgith on 08/08/2013

It's a great movie and one of my all time favourites. I can remember when my nephews used to come for a sleep over with my two sons, it was always a popular choice. I could certainly watch it over and over (and I have).

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