Thursday, January 23, 2014

Movie Review: Gladiator

The Story: When the Roman Emperor secretly chooses a noble general to be his successor, the emperor’s son is enraged, and murders his father to be able to claim the throne. He then sends soldiers to murder the general and his family. The general escapes from his executioners too late to save his family, and gives up on life, which leads to him becoming a slave. In slavery, he is forced to be a gladiator, a twist of fate that, due to the emperor’s love of violent games, will bring him face to face with the evil emperor once more.

My Thoughts: This historical action film was a huge box office success, and it’s easy to see why. It has memorable characters, from the heroic general who is brutally betrayed and seeks vengeance to the spoiled brat emperor whose wickedness causes great suffering. The story, about an enslaved gladiator daring to defy the most powerful man in the world, is compelling. The action sequences are elaborate, yet add to the story rather than being the main attraction.

Despite being two and a half hours long, this film moves at a fast pace, and I actually wish it had been a bit longer, since the ending felt a bit rushed. How things wrap up is not entirely satisfying, but it is not enough of a problem to seriously harm the film. Overall, Gladiator is exceptionally well-made, and seems guaranteed to become a classic. It’s also one of the few R-rated films that shows enough restraint for me to be able to recommend it.

Content Overview: The violence is intense and bloody, and while it doesn’t get overly graphic, it might be too much even for some adult viewers. Several mild swear words pop up. A few sexual references appear, including about incest, prostitution, and rape, and though not all of them are mild, none are explicit. The paganism of Rome and surrounding cultures, and its spiritual implications, affect a significant amount of the story.

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