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Harry's Review Of GLADIATOR

Hey folks, Harry here in San Francisco.

As many of you, I'm sure, have heard via TALK BACKS and most likely even other websites, the film that we screened here at the 1st Aint It Cool News Test Screening was GLADIATOR.

Now, I'm calling this an AICN Test Screening for one very important reason. GLADIATOR is one of those movies that we've had such strong word of mouth on from various test screenings and such that I just think that it was important to test the film to complete film geek/film fan audience and see how the results come out.

I'm sure that I will be running a ton of reviews from this screening.... Great reviews, Good reviews, Ok reviews and even the bad ones... if we get them. Moriarty has his review en route... and has the distinct advantage to having seen the film twice now. Yes... He sucks.

BUT... Now, while I look out my window upon FAO SCHWARZ and the busy streets of San Francisco... I will let my mind drift back to the screening.


This is the Ridley Scott that we fanboys and girls drool over.

Before the screening Moriarty had said to me that he felt that this was Ridley Scott's best film. Having had one viewing of GLADIATOR, I can not say that.


Well, I don't believe it is anything wrong with the film... It is just that the characters drawn in BLADE RUNNER are more personal to me and that is a film that has some very similar themes.

Both films are stories that contain themes about those who's purpose is to entertain and die doing it... while others merely take in that pleasure. Both contain themes of the prodigal son and the inadequate father... both contain facing your maker and coming to grips (or not) with why he does not love you as much as you want.

Both films reveal a world completely enthralling in scope and vision. Both films contain my personal favorite performances by many of the actors within.

BUT... I currently give BLADE RUNNER the edge because... Flying Cars rock. And being the film noir junkie that I am... And for the historic fact that BLADE RUNNER was the first 'R' rated film that I bought my own ticket for.

HOWEVER... Time will ultimately tell whether or not this film gets up there.

When Russell Crowe says, "I will win the crowd. I will give them something that they have never seen before." The utter shiver of coolness that goes through you is... electric.

Then there is the brief stanza of conviction that he utters after removing his gladiator helmet... delivered so well... so bad ass.... so cool that the audience had that rupture of "Fucking A!", "Ooooh Yeeeaaaah" and so on.

GLADIATOR is a great cool film. Russell Crowe is now very much in the position to takeover the badass bubblegum chewer award from Chow Yun Fat, Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson. When his Maximus has a sword in his hand or a trident or a shield or whatever it may be... When he walks out to the middle of the arena there is this feeling as if you could line up ten thousand men between him and his personal revenge goal and he would wade through them as though they were pond water.

BUT... I've gotten ahead of myself.

Ridley Scott begins the film with a dream... a vision before a battle. Now... You've seen pictures from this battle on the site before. We've had reports from the Huns that fought in the battle. Now... This battle is beyond science fiction in coolness.

There are thousands of men upon the forested field. Trenches of flame. Hundreds upon hundreds of flaming arrows darting into the air and down upon the Huns. There are gigantic balls of flame that are catapulted through the air crashing again the midsections of the trees raining down flame like Napalm in VIETNAM. Arrows the size of giant javelins thrusts forth from these amazing devices skewering people through trees, killing both man and horse. From a distance it all looks like bizarre energy weapons being hurled, tracer fire and... "Yousa men people gonna dieeee?"

Oh yeah.

Now fortunately for mankind, the print we saw WAS BASICALLY the final print.

Besides the opening and closing titles and some possible touch ups with Hans Zimmer's score that was magnificient.... this film is done. Which when I came... I wasn't expecting.

Apparently, GLADIATOR has just been awarded an R from the MPAA... and thank GOD.... Because giving this film a NC-17 and then forcing Ridley Scott to make this film... clean and palatable for the masses would be an affront to everything we hold dear in auteur vision and the purpose of film and cinema.

The violence. Split bodies, hacked apart arms, diced heads, burnt crucified bodies, trampled to death children, maggot infested wounds, dogs chewing upon the mangled foot of a man till it looks like chicken cartlege that you spit out.... This wasn't done by Ridley Scott to the ends of pornography. There is a dileberate purpose behind these hellish images.

They are there to remind us. Not in the antiseptic bloodletting of MORTAL KOMBAT, but in the visceral shock of a SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.

"Dirt is far easier to clean off than blood."

Throughout this film we are reminded that Maximus... the Spaniard... They who are about to die that salute us... These are people not meant for the arena... that noone is really meant for the arena. There are families. Crops. Other reasons to live.

This is a film that reminds of the decadence of Rome. This isn't THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE and it is also not SPARTACUS.

There will be ALOT of comparisons to SPARTACUS by the media at large... But this is a completely stupid thing to do.

SPARTACUS is about freedom... comparing BRAVEHEART or even the upcoming PATRIOT to SPARTACUS is more apt.

GLADIATOR is about honor and personal sacrifice... it is about making a difference. It is about surviving hell. And it is not about THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE or leading a slave rebellion. It's about controlling the mob conciousness. Manipulating the masses through popular forms of entertainment. And how entertainment and the distraction it gives the masses is important to the 'powers that be'.

And while it's about all of that... it is also just plain uber cool.

I can imagine watching this movie to the point of memorization. The film is as beautiful as the best work that Ridley Scott has done. For geeks that love CONAN THE BARBARIAN (which has a better score), EXCALIBUR (which is better photographed) and THE SWORD AND THE SORCEROR (which does nothing even closely approaching the quality of this film, but I still love it anyway)... this film is for us.

For Alamo-Man, FANBOYS dude, Tom Joad and Johnny Wad.... By the time you get through listening to me, Father Geek and Annette... you will hate us forever. I suggest moving to Seymour, Texas till release. Cause that's the last place on earth that'll I'll be.

Now... To Russell Crowe... Make a badass movie with Robert Rodriguez as quickly as possible. I want to be on a set watching you kick the shit out of Danny Trejo's ass.

Now... as I send this to you from the MICROSOFT SF store at the Metreon... I salute you.

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