“Gladiator” is a good movie without being a great movie. It’s not that it had any huge flaws in it, it’s just that it never built upon itself. Instead of getting more and more powerful with each battle and each scene of intrigue, the film just resets itself to its previous level. This effort to keep itself in check is what kept the movie from being “great.”
It started with a great battle and, like I said, just cruised along after that. It had no grand climax, just a quiet ending.
The story is intriguing — a tale of treachery, revenge and triumph — though I’m told it was lifted from “The Fall of the Roman Empire.”
Technically speaking, “Gladiator” is intriguing. Here’s why:
- Unlike Roger Ebert, who criticized it’s muddy tones, I thought the use of two major colors — blue and brown — was impressive. It helped bring it together thematicly if you think of it. Blue for the sinister politics and brown for the Maximus’ battles.
- Another interesting thing was the use of snakes. Just before some of key gladiatorial battles in the film, they always showed people playing and taunting snakes. Perhaps it was director Ridley Scott’s way of saying if you mess with Maximus, you get bit.
- Particularly pleasing is that Christianity or Judeaism wasn’t in the film at all. Why? Because every other film I’ve seen like this makes a point to show that it was the hero’s religion that made them the good guy. In fact, “Gladiator” goes out of its way to show Roman/Greek religion as it was truly embraced by the Romans. It was a nice touch.
And finally one minor criticism: A recent cliche that has surfaced in movies about ancient times is that the villain is always considered sexually deviant. He’s a homosexual. He’s in love with his mother. He wants to sleep with his sister. He’s a sadist.
Why is this? Isn’t killing people in cold blood a good enough reason to be a villain? Why do the writers have to continue their “character development” into the sex thing?