Those of you expecting Gladiator to be a wham-bam summer action movie should probably take your money elsewhere, but if you like a good mix of action and drama this could be a movie for you.Gladiator follows the story Maximus, the Roman general who's really a Spaniard played by Aussie actor Russell Crowe using a British accent (huh?!). It seems that he is the greatest general in the Roman army and is trusted confidant of the ruling Ceasar. The opening battle means to show us what a great leader our hero is, but director Ridley Scott doesn't want you to see any of it. The jump-cuts and shaky camera work actually made me long to watch the Blair Witch Project from the second row again (not something I can recommend).
Luckily for us, the movie picks up after that. Maximus is betrayed and winds up as a slave forced to fight for a crowd's entertainment. Turns out he's pretty good at it too. He's picked to fight in Rome where he wins the crowds favor and saves the empire (at least for a couple centuries).
But of course you knew that from the trailers. Just because you know most of the plot doesn't detract from the fact that this is an entertaining movie. The dialogue isn't all that interesting but the acting more than makes up for it. Crowe has the honorable soldier routine down perfectly, and you really are cheering for him the whole time. He's helped along by some excellent supporting performances, most notably the late Oliver Reed as his mentor and Joaquin Phoenix as a very real and very unlikable adversary.I walked out of Gladiator deeply touched by many of the characters, but on further reflection the whole thing reminded me way too much of Braveheart, both in style and in plot. Only the setting was really different. However, the (all-too-short) action sequences are spectacular and the pacing made the two-and-a-half hours seem short. Overall Gladiator is a fun ride, even if it won't win any awards for originality. Critical rating: 6/10, Entertainment rating: 9/10