Gladiator 4K Ultra
20th Anniversary Edition review by Bobby Blakey
I am a huge fan of director Ridley Scott who has brought some truly great films to life including Alien, Blade Runner and so many more. In 2000 he took audiences to the Roman coliseum with Gladiator starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Neilsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Djimon Hounsou, and Tommy Flanagan. Now Paramount is bringing the epic film to 4K Ultra for the first time.
Gladiator follows Maximus, a powerful Roman general, loved by the people and the aging Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before his death, the Emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus, and a power struggle leaves Maximus and his family condemned to death. The powerful general is unable to save his family, and his loss of will allows him to get captured and put into the Gladiator games until he dies. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top so that he will be able to look into the eyes of the man who will feel his revenge. I remember seeing this film in theaters when it came out with a friend, but not really being all that interested. When I walked out my mind had been completely changed and it still holds up great today.
The scope Scott brought to this film with the recreations of Rome, the coliseum and overall visuals make this film work in ways it just wouldn’t have otherwise. Everything here feels like old Hollywood in ways we just don’t get enough of these days, but with a gritty wash to make it feel more current. Crowe’s breakout performance here is still excellent and easily one of his best to date. I loved him in Romper Stomper, but this still holds up as my personal favorite for not only the straight acting and emotions, but his believability in the action. Phoenix perfectly captures that spoiled brat mentality buried in pure hate and evil to make him a character you can’t help but hate. The action is so well shot and executed that even knowing how it plays out it is still intense and fun to watch.