Ridley Scott (2000)

15 Certificate
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Our Score
Ridley Scott and the boys from DreamWorks produced the first genuine Roman epic since 1964's The Fall of the Roman Empire with this virtual remake that deals with the transition of power from the sage-like Marcus Aurelius to his monstrous son, Commodus. The fictional hero, General Maximus, is Caesar's adopted heir, whom Commodus turns into an exile after killing his family. Becoming a gladiator, Maximus fights to avenge his loved ones and save the soul of Rome. The film's strengths are a fine script, which doesn't stint on the politics, and excellent performances from Richard Harris as Aurelius and Oliver Reed, in his final film, as a gladiator trainer. Also superb is Joaquin Phoenix as the paranoid, teenage Commodus, while Russell Crowe is utterly convincing as the Conan/Spartacus-like hero. As always with Scott, the visuals are fabulous: the computer-generated ancient Rome is simply staggering, allowing helicopter shots over the city and turning the Colosseum into a living building, a character in its own right and a blood-soaked stage on which the fate of the characters and the empire is enacted. For those old enough to remember the 70mm epics of yesteryear, this is a nostalgic synthesis of all of them. For those who haven't seen those earlier movies, Scott will open their eyes to a "brand-new" old world.


Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius is a casualty of a power struggle between the corrupt Emperor Commodus and the senate. Ordered to be put to death along with his family, he escapes his would-be killers but is sold into slavery as a gladiator - and uses his fame in the arena to fight against the tyrant. Oscar-winning period epic, with Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Derek Jacobi and Oliver Reed, in his last film role.

Cast & Crew

Maximus Decimus Meridius Russell Crowe
Commodus Joaquin Phoenix
Marcus Aurelius Richard Harris
Gracchus Derek Jacobi
Lucilla Connie Nielsen
Antonius Proximo Oliver Reed
Cassius David Hemmings
Juba Djimon Hounsou
Falco David Schofield
Gaius John Shrapnel
Quintus Tomas Arana
Director Ridley Scott
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: UIPGuidance: Violence, swearing. Available on: video, DVD and Blu-ray