Discs Are Rated
Click above to purchase "Gladiator" at amazon.com
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 155 minutes
Starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie
Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Deke Jacobi, Dijmon Hounsou and
Screenplay by David Franzoni, John Logan and William
Story by David Franzoni
Directed by Ridley Scott
Retail Price: $29.99
Features: Commentary with Director Ridley Scott,
Director Of Photography John Mathiezon and Editor Pielro
Scalia, Deleted Scenes with optional Commentary by Scott,
The Making Of Gladiator Featurette, Gladiator Games: Roman
Blood Sport documentary, Hans Zimmer: Composing Gladiator
featurette, My Gladiator Journal by Spencer Treat Clark,
Original Storyboards, Stills Gallery, Trailers, TV Sports,
Cast and Crew Bios, Production Notes
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 5.1, English DTS ES, English Dolby Surround, English
Subtitles, Chapter Search (28 Chapters), Two-Disc Set
Making tons of money as the first "big" summer movie of
the year 2000, and expected to scoop up many, major awards,
"Gladiator" finally hits home on DVD in a very quick time,
and has already made DVD history by having the most copies
shipped, edging out
Matrix slightly. This DVD is going to be a giant seller,
and once again, Dreamworks has released an outstanding
The film opens with a fantastic war sequence, led by the
general Maximus (Russell Crowe, with a performance that
ranks right up there with "The Insider"). It is action
packed, bloody and just plain enjoyable. His victory in the
battle is surely appreciated by the emperor, Marcus Aurelius
(Richard Harris). Marcus wants Maximus to be his successor
when he dies, to restore Rome, and not having be it corrupt.
This surely angers his son, Commodus (a mad and psychotic
Phoenix, who is great), so he kills his dad and orders for
Maximus to be killed. But Maximus escapes, and his family is
then burnt to a crisp. Having nothing, Maximus is pretty
much a goner, but nothing is over yet, when he is reduced to
slave status and trained by Proximo in fighting tournaments,
where he becomes really popular, and a true gladiator. Most
of the film encounters Maximus and his status struggles
yearning for freedom and his battles.
First off, "Gladiator" is one of the most enjoyable
cinematic expierences I have had in a long time. The long
running time only seemed like an hour to me, and the whole
atmosphere the film creates is done to perfection. Crowe and
Phoenix give Oscar® worthy performances, they truly
bring life to the characters the play. The characters they
play are really complex, and really show all sides of them.
The supporting roles by Nielsen, Reed, Harris are good too,
and just add to the film.
But what has so much speculation in "Gladiator" are the
fantastic fight sequences. There are only a few, but, they
are beautifully staged and entertaining, which is what
counts the most. Most of these few sequences last a good
amount of time, and are probably the best part of the movie.
My only gripe though in a rare case or two the editing in
these sequences were a little choppy. Things happen so fast
and shaky you have a little trouble what is going on.
The sets, costumes cinematograpjy and all design aspects
are excellent in "Gladiator". This also adds to the film,
and just makes it a little bit more believable. Scott, a
distinguished director, does not let tre audience down here.
His style makes the film what it is - entertaining and
enjoyable. The cinematography captures so many beautiful
shots and really takes your breath away.
But I did have gripes about Gladiator, however. No, it
wasn't the few historical inaccuricies, but rather, most of
the movie is uneven. There is really unesscary subplot
involving Phoenix and Nielsen, and I felt a certain
character could have died a more noble death (sadly, he died
during filming. If that's not a hint then what is?). A lot
of "Gladiator" is also lavishly overdone, but within the
story I felt it became really uneven. The various plot
points were not just balanced equally. I could go on about
this, but I don't want to ruin the movie.
Despite the few the flaws, Gladiator does succeed in what
movies are supposed to be: entertaining and enjoyable, and
the time flies surprisingly quick. The acting, fight
sequences, design aspect and directing really shine.
"Gladiator" is an excellent movie that deserves to be in
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dreamworks
once again delivers an incredibly beautiful transfer. Every
shot of the film is presented really nicely. Colors are bold
and beautiful, as the colors and various hues represent the
tones of scenes perfectly. Detail is amazing, and though
some have criticized that the film looks annoying in
widescreen, I have to disagree, as there is more to behold
here than a full frame transfer will give you. You'll admire
the action sequences and the beautiful sets, this transfer
gives off a ton of the movie's production values. Though
there are some pieces of dirt and grain now and then, the
same thing with some shimmering, but it doesn't ruin the
transfer. It doesn't get much better than this. You may have
to watch the movie a few times to get everything and take it
all in. A really sharp and beautiful transfer, I'm sure
you'll be just as pleased as I was.
Wow, we're even treated to a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and
a DTS ES track (plus a Dolby Surround), all in English. I
watched the movie in DTS and compared it to some Dolby
Digital scenes. Each feature excellent use of the .1 LFE and
a lot of dynamic range. Of course, the key moments for these
tracks are the fight scenes in the arena, and the opening
war scene. During these scenes, the channels really light up
and make you feel like you're part of the action. The crowds
roaring, the battle sounds, just a whole atmosphere full of
punch. Hans Zimmer's score also sounds really beautiful with
the channels, and dialogue is clear and easy to understand.
Thankfully, nothing overpowers anything. In choosing between
the DTS and Dolby Digital, the DTS wins here in my opinion,
but not by much. I felt the DTS sounded a lot more sharper.
No matter which track you choose, you're in for quite a
This ain't a Dreamworks Signature Selection for nothing!
It would only make sense to back this movie with goodies,
due to all the critical praise and success it has. Luckily,
Ridley Scott has always provided a lot on the making of his
films when releasing them on DVD, as he seems to really
support the format. This two disc set is no exception.
The only extra on the first disc is a Commentary with
Ridley Scott, Director Of Photography John Mathiezon and
Editor Pielro Scalia. While the box just lists Scott,
Mathiezon and Scalia are here as well. The commentary even
has an chapter index to get downright specific (very few
DVDs have this nowadays and I certainly enjoy it, though the
commentary stops are the same as the chapter stops). This is
a very insightful and enjoyable commentary. Scott leads the
way, as they discuss influences and certain parts of the
production and how it affected it as a whole. Stories are
told and in the end, you really a gain a lot of the
commentary and the film as a whole. An excellent commentary,
and certainly one of the best I've heard on DVD.
On to disc two, From The Cutting Room Floor
features twelve deleted scenes, with optional commentary
from Ridley Scott. Like most deleted scenes, you can see why
they were cut and Scott does explain (though it seems on
some he has second thoughts), but they are really
entertaining. The scenes are in non-anamorphic widescreen
and appear a bit grainy. These fully edited scenes are a
great addition to the set.
The Making Of Gladiator lasts twenty five minutes,
and is a wonderful featurette. Clips from the film and
behind the scenes footage is shown, as well as interviews
with Scott, Crowe and much of the cast and crew. A good
amount of production detail is discussed. Not too
promotional and very nicely done.
Gladiator Games: Roman Blood Sport is a supplement
that fits perfectly with the movie. Rather than really
focusing on the movie, it focuses on the real gladiator
games. You can see how much was the same and how much was
overall different in the movie. It lasts fifty minutes, and
is pretty interesting as well as educational. This is great
to make comparisons and whatnot. Again, very nifty to go
with the movie.
Hans Zimmer: Scoring Gladiator lasts about
twenty-one minutes and is pretty much an interview with
Zimmer and his thoughts on the film, how it was offered and
the music in general. I am a big fan of Zimmer and his work,
as I think he's one of the best Hollywood composers working
today. I was eager to watch this and I was not disappointed.
My Gladiator Journal is a really lenghty journal
from Spencer Treat Clark, the young actor in the movie who
played Lucius. While I found some of his comments corny and
annoying (plus sort of perverted, check out that massage
photo and comment!), this is a very interesting journal and
gives you a very good idea of how a movie is made, what
challanges are faced and how much time and effort is spent -
all from a kids perspective. While I'm not sure how many
have the patience to read all of it, if you do, you'll get
some interesting thoughts on making movies.
Original Storyboards are nicely drawn boards
outlining key sequences in the film and some deleted scenes.
There are twelve you can see: "Germania Battle", "Maximus
Execution", "Flight From Germania", "Zucchabar", "Arena
Fight", "Battle Of Carthage", "Tiger Fight", "Commodus
Fight", (now the deleted) "Maximus's Vision", "Rhino Fight",
"Altnerative Colosseum Fight" and "Alternative Proximo
Ending". There are all very nice and could you view them all
at once. It would have been nice if Dreamworks gave
instructions on how to flip through the pages. Despite it
being obvious, it'd be nice for DVD newbies and whatnot. But
it's not hard to figure out.
Stills Gallery has very cool stills to look out.
There are "Portraits", "Germania", "Zucchabar", "Rome",
"Colosseum" and "Behind The Scenes". You can also view them
all at once if you want. These are nice stills, and again,
it would have been nice if Dreamworks put some instructions
Rounding out the disc are the Theatrical Teaser,
Theatrical Trailer, four TV Spots (look for a
nice "Gladiator" related Easter Egg around there, which
advertises another great Dreamworks movie) plus Cast and
Crew Bios (a lot for the crew!) and detailed plus
interesting Production Notes (these are also in the
keep case insert).
Each disc also has some really nice animated menus with
some of the great score, and they really reflect the movie.
Another excellent package from Dreamworks. Two
well-executed sound mixes (DTS ES and Dolby Digital), a
stunning transfer and a ton of supplements. And it's for a
spectacular film to boot. Make no mistake, "Gladiator"
deserves a spot on your shelf and is a great movie to show
off your home theater.
(4/5 - NOT included in
NOT an average)