Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Gladiator: Special Extended Edition DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By David Franzoni, John Logan and William Nicholson
Directed By Ridley Scott

A Dreamworks, Universal Pictures and Scott Free Productions Production

Genre
Historical, Drama, Action, Adventure

Cast

Russell Crowe as Maximus
Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus
Connie Nielsen as Lucilla
Oliver Reed as Proximo
Richard Harris as Marcus Aurelius
Derek Jacobi as Gracchus
Djimon Hounsou as Juba
David Schofield as Falco

Certificate 15

Synopsis

What We Do In Life Echoes In Eternity.

Winner of 5 Academy Awards statuettes, including Best Picture and Best Actor; Gladiator receives the 'Extended Special Edition' treatment. Personally overseen by director Ridley Scott, this 3-disc edition is loaded with new bonus materials and features 17 minutes of additional footage not shown in cinemas. This is the ultimate Gladiatorial experience!

The great Roman General Maximus (Russell Crowe) has once again led the legions to victory on the battlefield. The war won, Maximus dreams of home, wanting only to return to his wife and son; however, the dying Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) has one more duty for the general - to assume the mantle of his power.

Jealous of Maximus' favour with the Emperor, the heir to the throne, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), orders his execution - and that of his family. Barely escaping death, Maximus is forced into slavery and trained as a gladiator in the arena where his fame grows.

Now he has come to Rome, intent on avenging the murder of his wife and son by killing the new emperor; Commodus....

Special Features
  •  Introduction by director Ridley Scott
  • Audio commentary by actor Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott
  • Are You Not Entertained? trivia track 
  • Tale of the Scribes: Story Development
  • The Tools of War: Weapons
  • Attire of the Realm: Costume Design
  • The Heat of Battle: Production Journals
  • The Glory of Rome: Visual Effects
  • Shadows and Dust: Resurrecting Proximo
  • Echoes in Eternity: Release and Impact 
  • Production Design Primer: Arthur Max
  • Production Design Gallery
  • Storyboard Demonstration: Sylvain Despretz
  • Storyboard Gallery
  • Storyboard-To-Film Comparisons
  • Ridleygrams
  • Costume Design Gallery
  • Photo Galleries
  • Abandoned Sequences & Deleted Scenes
  • VFX Explorations: Germania & Rome
  • Trailer
  • TV Spots

Review

'Gladiator' was the well deserving winner of five Academy Awards when it was originally released in 2000 and brought the 'sword and sandals' epic back to the cinema screen with massive success.

Nearly thirteen years have passed since then and I thought maybe it was time to revisit the movie to see if it was as good as when it was first released?

The answer to that is a most resounding yes.  There are some scenes that are slightly eclipsed by advances in computer generated images, the scenes involving a computer generated Rome are just impressive but have just lost their luster slightly, but for the most part this is a movie well deserving of it's reputation.

Here in this special extended version of the movie, released in a 3 DVD set, there are some added scenes that help to flesh out some of the other characters and the story lines that run next to the main one involving Maximus.

Sometimes when you get an extended version of the movie it just feels like they have padded it out with scenes that really were not needed in the slightest.  That's not the case here, they really seem to have chosen the scenes that have been added very carefully.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that they aren't even slightly out of place.

The cast is absolutely spot on.  Ridley Scott really gets the best out of the cast and that leads to some absolutely fantastic performances.  The best of these is obviously Russell Crowe as Maximus, who gives such a great performance that you really can't think of anybody else in the role.  This is definitely one of the best performances of his career and is incredibly memorable.

Sadly this was Oliver Reed's final appearance as he passed away during filming.  The way they use a double along with some computer trickery to make it look like he was in all of the movie is sublime.  You really can't tell the difference so kudos to the guys and girls that made that magic possible.  The makers of 'The Crow' had to do the same thing when Brandon Lee was sadly killed during filming so it's amazing that people are able to do that.

All in all, this is a must have movie, especially in this three disc set.  Not only do you get the brilliant film itself in an extended version but you also get a mass of special features that examines the whole process of making the movie itself.

Movie 4.5/5
Picture 4/5
Sound 4.5/5
Special Features 5/5
Overall 18/20

Gladiator (2000) on IMDb



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