Why I find Gladiator (2000) to be slightly annoying

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Registered User
Beautifully shot, beautifully scored, solid actors. It's one of those films that usually "hooks" me if it happens to be on. Am I not entertained? Well, yes. However, I am also slightly annoyed. Crow is a little too perfect as a hero and the tragedy which besets him is a little too perfect as is the resolution to the central conflict, complete with

WARNING: "Oops! Spoilerish" spoilers below
Lucilla preaching the virtues of Maximus to the crowd at the end of the film.
In short, its the writing, which is rotten with perfection.It's a little too obvious that this universe exists for the purpose of worshiping our hero (and thus venerating our imagined selves as Crow is the character with whom we are meant to identify). Don't get me wrong. It's good, but it lays it all on a little thick and it feels a bit like melodrama in the mode of "virtue masturbation." NOTE: Is Rebecca Ferguson this decade's Connie Nielsen?



I think I know what you mean.
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There's a kind of a forward-written screenplay. Called an "and then" series of events.
A happens, and then B happens. And then C happens. And then... and then... all the way to "And then Z happens".

Other screenplays are written backwards. Called a "Because" series of events.
Writing backwards, it's a case of "Z happens... because of Y that came before, and that in itself happened because of X"... all the way to "A".
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The best screenplays mix both types, but Gladiator is mainly written backwards.
If you watch the series of events in the movie, they cannot happen without the previous event... and it makes the movie feel a little contrived.

He can't get his revenge and go to Elysium to see his family, unless he was imprisoned and stabbed by Commodus.
He can't get imprisoned unless he stages an escape.
He can't stage an escape, unless Cicero appears at the Colosseum.
He also can't BE at the Colosseum, unless he was miraculously somehow sold into the hands of a gladiator trader.
He can't be sold to a gladiator trader, unless he was somehow in slavery.
He can't be in slavery, unless something happened to him.
So, what happened... well, he was disgraced by Commodus.
Why was he disgraced? Erm, ok, let's make it that Maximus would have been the new Caesar and Commodus killed Marcus to hide the truth.
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Originally Posted by doubledenim
Garbage bag people fighting hippy love babies.

Bots gotta be bottin'



aronisred's Avatar
outrageous film reviewer
It is a classic story told with huge scale and epic nature....so the story can't be too nuanced or complicated because that doesn't go well with the scope. IMO



If there is such a thing as Roman nostalgia, Gladiator does it. If you've ever read any Roman literature (I actually did, way back when, in Latin), several themes emerge in the movie. The plot line is obviously contrived and has plenty of historical fiction, but they did get some things right.

Commodus was arguably the most venal, corrupt and perverted of the emperors. He actually DID fight against hobbled gladiators, something that was a profound embarrassment to the royal family, although he was actually murdered in his bath by a slave named Narcissus, not in the arena.

To make a long story short, the movie plot plays on a common Roman theme, that of the nostalgia about the former days of Republican Roman virtue. Maximus is an unlikely name, mainly meaning The Biggest or The Greatest, but he harkened back to the pre-imperial days when a Roman from a good family like him would retire to his farm after a life as a soldier in the service of the Roman Senate, before the imperial years. As for a great soldier being condemned to galley slavery or the arena, that's something that might have happened in the reign of a creep like Commodus who was seen as defiling old republican virtues.

It fictionalizes a couple centuries of cultural angst into a 2 hour movie, but then it also did some of the best ancient world battle scenes ever done. You almost feel sorry for those brave but hapless Germanic barbarians when they come up against Roman catapults, spear chuckers, pikemen and organized tactics by armored legions. Skirmishers wearing bearskins didn't have much of a chance.



Beautifully shot, beautifully scored, solid actors. It's one of those films that usually "hooks" me if it happens to be on. Am I not entertained? Well, yes. However, I am also slightly annoyed. Crow is a little too perfect as a hero and the tragedy which besets him is a little too perfect as is the resolution to the central conflict, complete with

WARNING: "Oops! Spoilerish" spoilers below
Lucilla preaching the virtues of Maximus to the crowd at the end of the film.
In short, its the writing, which is rotten with perfection.It's a little too obvious that this universe exists for the purpose of worshiping our hero (and thus venerating our imagined selves as Crow is the character with whom we are meant to identify). Don't get me wrong. It's good, but it lays it all on a little thick and it feels a bit like melodrama in the mode of "virtue masturbation." NOTE: Is Rebecca Ferguson this decade's Connie Nielsen?
I don't disagree. It's not a movie I'm likely to watch again.



I gotta agree that Gladiator isn't well fleshed out in the story narrative. I wrote this about it:

I'd only seen this once and that was first run in the theater years ago. At that time I loved it and I've been wanting to rewatch it for the longest time. And so I finally did...

I find myself surprised that I didn't love it this time around. I don't have any real problems with the movie and it was fine for what it did. It's just that in all those years my movie taste has changed considerably and what I once liked in movies, I no longer do.

Gladiator
delivers on visual spectacle and fight sequences, as one would expect from a Ridley Scott film. But I've never been into action movies or martial art films so the fighting sequences were meh for me, especially the opening fight scene. I hate that filming style of reduced frame rate, fast edits and close ups, it makes me dizzy. That technique is used to shoot a lot of fights in movies and it just feels unsatisfying to me.

Ridley Scott doesn't really focus on the underlying story. Oh sure he alludes to it and the premise of an aging caesar who wished to restore Rome to the people by restoring power to the Senate....while his son grabs power and seeks to do just the opposite, would seem to be a powerful subject, but Ridley doesn't go into that deep enough. I wanted more palace intrigue and less elephants and giraffes. Ridley loves his production design, but here it gets in the way of the story.

This time around I actually rooted for Joaquin Phoenix to win! Sure he was insecure, manipulative and incestuous...and that made him interesting. Joaquin rocks his role and was the most interesting thing in the movie.

Russell Crowe was uninteresting to me in this, just too stoic. I ended up not liking him so when all this bad stuff happens to him, I didn't even care. I was thinking what could Commodus do to get rid of him once and for all!

Like I said, I didn't hate it, but I had a hard time getting through the 2 1/2 hours, as it felt like a 90 minute story to me.




The trick is not minding
There are issues with it, but itís still a pretty decent film. A lot of it has more to do with Crowe then anything else.
I always felt Phoenix was prone to overreacting in the film, however.
Great action sequences, though.



I get where you are coming from but it is what it is and doesnít try to hide the fact I think and is perhaps the master and prime example of it?

It felt like a story we all know, it appeal to something in us and then blown up, especially how Maximus triumphs not only to us the audience but to a real audience, it is seen.

Its a big fable in modern film making and there is enough on*the opposite end of the spectrum, films that try so hard to defy expectation and nothing wraps up neatly, ever.. maybe even a growing trend towards that.. to the worst point where one might conclude and be wrong that anything could ever be so neat and simple in real life ever. in any instance.. Maybe idk. I havenít seen it in over 10 years and try to avoid it.



Registered User
It is a classic story told with huge scale and epic nature....so the story can't be too nuanced or complicated because that doesn't go well with the scope. IMO
Well, Lawrence of Arabia has nuance, doesn't it? Our hero is seduced, and we are seduced, he becomes a seducer and the Arabs are seduced. And then he becomes venal and develops a lust for blood.

And then he is finally broken and we are broken and the lives of the Arabs go on after he has outlived his usefulness.

I know that not all epics can or should go this way. I mean, I get that we don't want William Wallace to be postmodern anti-hero at odds with the implications of his own violence. That stated, Maximus is a little too perfect and the universe is perfectly crafted to constantly assert his perfection to his peers. To me it all starts to too conspicuously feel like a daydream. Perhaps I am just jaded?



Registered User
For an even better Russell Crow movie, check out Master And Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)!

Yes. And while this one is also a can of hero worship, it is less annoying. Aubrey is fallible. He is a little obsessed. He is even a tad superstitious (as a man of his time would have been). He is loyal and is capable of evolving, and he is capable of pulling back from his obsession, at least at moments.



If anyone is just a bit annoying it is our audience surrogate Marturin (no fault of Bettany), Aubrey's dear friend who is rather implausibly on the brink of scooping Darwin and has sensibilities that are a tad too distinctly those of our own time.



As is the case with Gladiator, the music is wonderful, the images are wonderful (if your in the mood for reds and oranges go Gladiator, if you're in the mood for blues go with Master and Commander), the acting is solid. And this world feels just a little more real. Gladiator is more or a romp of masculine virtue (Maximus is here to kick ass and look after his family... ...and he's all out of family).



Master and Commander, on the other hand, feels a bit more like a slice of life. The wooden walls of the British navy were, in a sense, Britain in microcosm, so we're getting a sense of values, virtues, interpersonal roles, hierarchy, etc. of an age.



Yes. And while this one is also a can of hero worship, it is less annoying. Aubrey is fallible. He is a little obsessed. He is even a tad superstitious (as a man of his time would have been). He is loyal and is capable of evolving, and he is capable of pulling back from his obsession, at least at moments.



If anyone is just a bit annoying it is our audience surrogate Marturin (no fault of Bettany), Aubrey's dear friend who is rather implausibly on the brink of scooping Darwin and has sensibilities that are a tad too distinctly those of our own time.



As is the case with Gladiator, the music is wonderful, the images are wonderful (if your in the mood for reds and oranges go Gladiator, if you're in the mood for blues go with Master and Commander), the acting is solid. And this world feels just a little more real. Gladiator is more or a romp of masculine virtue (Maximus is here to kick ass and look after his family... ...and he's all out of family).



Master and Commander, on the other hand, feels a bit more like a slice of life. The wooden walls of the British navy were, in a sense, Britain in microcosm, so we're getting a sense of values, virtues, interpersonal roles, hierarchy, etc. of an age.
I could discuss this movie a lot (especially since I went and read the first 4 books of the 21 book series the movie was derived from... and let me say, this is one case where the movie is better than the book or books - unless they kept improving after the first 4).

Interesting you mentioned Aubrey's superstition, as Maturin seemed to play as the antithesis (a man who embraced science and empirical evidence over superstition or religion). It was their oppositeness (is that a word?) that made them friends.

Maturin was like an amalgam of "Spock & McCoy" (Spock's logic & McCoy's annoyance at military protocol) to Aubrey's "Kirk."



Another great Russel Crowe movie is Proof (1991) an Australian film with young Crowe and a young Hugo Weaving.
A dark comedy about a blind photographer. A bit of a mind bender with some satisfying twists.

Ironically, the first review on IMDB says, "better acting from Crowe than in Gladiator".
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102721/?ref_=fn_tt_tt_3



I watched Gladiator several years ago and didn't like it back then. I revisited it a few months ago as I had a feeling I would enjoy it more, but my opinion stayed pretty much the same.