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Gladiator Russell Crowe Joaquin Phoenix Connie Nielsen Oliver Reed Derek Jacobi Djimon Hounsou David Schofield Tomas Arana Ralf Möller Sven-Ole Thorsen

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.

Score: 9.5/10

Foightin Round The WorldRussel Crowe: First off, I reckon you’d be a fool to argue with this man’s on-screen talent as he’s one of the best actors of our times. Unfortunately it’s his off-screen capers that seem to get him such a bad rep. He’s been alleged to have terrorised, offended or punched the shit out of people in hotels, restaurants, bars, harbours… nowhere is safe! From hotel porters & security guards to pensioners… nobody is safe! My favourite Crowe-based rumour was him going in to a busy Canadian bar, slagging off Ice Hockey for being a ‘womans sport’ and calling the bar tender a ‘Gabby Old Trout’ (allegedly). He also underwhelmed the world of folk-rock with his band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, although his fame is arguably the only reason anyone’s even heard of them. When sober he can be a charitable chap; rebuilding libraries, saving schools & rugby teams as well as gifting £1,000 to Cancer Research UK and film props to charities during the Robin Hood filming. Like every other man in the world, Crowe goes a bit feral when he’s shit-faced, maybe more so than most, but at least he never gets ‘Mel Gibson’ drunk…

Verdict: for me Crowe’s manly-man-Genius and I’d love to party with him. He definitely gets a disproportionately hard time for his bad-boy antics.

Maximus Genius or Cinderella Arse – You Decide!