Gladiator: an army general turned slave must rise from the pits of the Colosseum and take down a false leader who murdered his family, friends, and previous employer. The cast is a jaw-dropping mix of ‘classic’ thespians, up-and-comers, bodybuilders, and comedians but everyone feels completely at home in their roles. The plot is simple, but packed with so much Shakespearean betrayal and deception that feels hypnotic in parts. Action scenes are huge, flashy, and bloody – but remain visceral & entertaining, and stand up against anything coming out today. It’s hard to find flaws in this: In fact, my only minor niggle is that some of the setup feels rushed and clunky; like how you can pick anyone off the ground and make ‘em a slave. You know a film is special when even after a handful of viewings and years of TV re-runs it still grips you, and the 155 minute runtime flies by. Everything about Gladiator feels truly ‘epic’ in the classic Hollywood sense – the sets, the action, the plot, the acting, the score – and it all comes together perfectly to create what’s arguably the perfect swords and sandals film.
The King’s Speech: after becoming King by default George VI must overcome a vicious stammer and his fear of public speaking. I was really looking forward to writing up an “It’s not perfect” review, but read Colin’s one at (Pick ‘n’ Mix Flix) covers all my points and reads better too – I feel redundant! Anyway, here goes… I can’t believe all the hype is focused on Firth when Rush absolutely blows him – and everyone else – out the water; his performance is criminally overlooked and under-publicised. Not to take anything away from Colin however, as he was still really good. Guy Pearce on the other hand easily walks away with worst actor in this picture. For such a grand, big film it seemed to lack a cinematic feel, landing in big budget TV territory for me (Hooper is a TV director after all). It was surprisingly funny given the somewhat mundane subject matter too. My biggest gripe was that this is 100% unashamedly Oscar bait, what with someone overcoming an affliction, an unlikely friendship, fly on the wall Royalty insight, and being an Historic piece… It’s a good film, but everything is way too safe and it plays to the crowd a little bit too much.