The true art of cinema is redefined with Gladiator, a remarkable film, an epic in the classic tradition, coupled with a contemporary honesty and rawness.There’s little doubt that with this masterful achievement, director Ridley Scott has crafted a visual masterpiece, a stunning piece of cinema, which is cinematically expansive, but not at the expense of character, narrative or theme. It would have been easy for this movie to simply look grand, as it does, to take the viewer back to a world rarely seen on film. Easy indeed, but in this case, Gladiator is as much a film about the nature of heroism versus that of treachery, than it is about the violence of a once powerful society.
Combining the merits of films such as Ben Hur and Spartacus, Scott weaves together all the elements of epic filmmaking, and combined those with a detailed sense of character, all the while filling his wonderful canvas with images that are shimmering and overpowering. He has also peopled his canvas with some superb performances. From The Insider to the central role of the betrayed general, is a leap for star Crowe, but it’s one that proves that he remains one of the most exciting screen performers of his generation. As the cameras follow his every facial nuance, he gives an expressive and hypnotic performance.
While Joaquin Phoenix has the role of the treacherous young Emperor, it’s a part that he runs with and from which he never lets go. Phoenix is devilishly hypnotic here, and is aided by other top-notch work by veteran British thespians Richard Harris and Derek Jacobi. The movie features a magnificent Hans Zimmer score that matches the movie’s sublime visual imagery, enhanced by the rich cinematography of John Mathieson.Gladiator is the kind of movie making that Hollywood should embrace more often but rarely does. Here is a film that is captivating escapism and breathtaking cinema, a masterful and hypnotic spectacle that not only transports us back to an ancient world, but also does so with a story that is memorable. (Paul Fisher--filmnet.org.au)