Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Richard Harris, Djimon Hounsou, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi
Written By: David Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Studio: Paramount / Dreamworks
Buy On Amazon.com
You know you have seen a movie so much that you can’t count how many times you’ve seen it, since it premiered in theaters. Gladiator is one of those movies, where I fell in love with it and Hans Zimmer’s score on opening weekend. Now it’s 20 years old and besides feeling old, the movie still holds up really well!
By now, most of you should know the story of Gladiator. General Maximus (Russell Crowe) is promised to succeed the ailing Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) but things don’t turn out that way. The Emperor dies, his corrupt and whiny little asshat of a son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) takes over instead. Maximus is sent to be executed but escapes. He tries to get home to save his family but is too late. He’s then captured and is forced to become a gladiator, where he finds himself fighting in front of Commodus in Rome. His main focus is to survive long enough to get revenge.
Gladiator is definitely one of my favorite movies of the last 20 years and all-time. I’ve seen the movie countless times and there’s still scenes I still absolutely love. The beginning battle in Germania, the first time Maximus has to fight in an arena, the Barbarian Horde sequence and the Maximus/Commodus interaction. Just so many scenes I like. The opening battle still could have been so much better though. It’s like Ridley ran out of money half way through the sequence and decided to just make everything all blurry and shaky. I can’t imagine he wanted to show the battle like that. After re-watching this, I also wanted to fast forward/skip scenes with Commodus and his sister Lucilla. I felt that way back when I first saw it as well, I just wanted to see stuff with Maximus and the gladiators. The movie tries to come across as this political drama as well, which doesn’t do a good job since the facts of the real life characters are all over the place. It works in some aspects but other times it bogs the movie down.
I decided to watch the extended cut, since I’ve seen the original cut so many times. I think the extended cut was offered on my previous Blu-Ray version but there were scenes I forgot were added back in. You get more scenes with the gladiators, more stuff with Commodus like him executing 2 soldiers who lied to him about Maximus. That should have been included into the original cut. I remember parts of that were in the trailer as well. I also liked Proximo telling Maximus to entertain and stop killing people so quickly. In retrospect, the scene where he screams at the crowd and asks them “are you not entertained?” makes a lot of sense now.
I tried to do a comparison of the quality between both the original and extended in 4k and they both looked really good. I’ve said this before, but sometimes it’s hard to notice the difference between 4k and Blu-Ray. At least with my eyes. I notice it the most in the menu screens, but not so much in the movie itself. Having a steel case is a nice touch, and like having the UHD digital code as well. My previous Gladiator copy was a split Gladiator/Braveheart copy, which is also out on 4k Steelbook as well and celebrating its 25th anniversary. The extras included are from a previous version, I believe from 2 years ago so essentially this is just a re-packaged 20th anniversary edition Steelbook edition.
Gladiator is 20 years old and I still consider it one of my favorite movies. The acting from Crowe, Phoenix, Hounsou, Reed and Harris is great. The extended edition is worth watching if you like the movie and want to see some things fleshed out. Otherwise, the original cut is fine as well. Worth purchasing if you don’t own the movie in 4k yet.
Original and Extended Cuts in 4k, Blu-Ray
Visions from Elysium: Topic Portal
Strength and Honor: Creating the World of Gladiator
Image and Design
Abandoned Sequences & Deleted Scenes
The Aurellian Archives
Codec: HEVC / H.265
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: DTS Headphone:X
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, French, Spanish
Bottom Line: Still holds up as one of my favorite movies of all-time
Running Time: 171 mins