Blind Spot Series: Gladiator (2000)

gladiator-2000-movie-review-blind-spot-seriesDirector: Ridley Scott

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama

Runtime: 155 Minutes

Main Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, David Schofield, John Shrapnel, Tomas Arana

Plot: Maximus was a strong and loved Roman general, so much so that the aging Emperor Marcus Aurelius chooses him to be his heir over his own son, Commodus. A power struggle breaks out and Maximus’ family are slaughtered, leaving Maximus himself captured and put into the Gladiator games. Now fuelled by vengeance, Maximus sets his sights on rising up the ranks and avenge his wife and son.

My Thoughts: My timing couldn’t be more perfect with my Blind Spot choices lately. I’d chosen The Matrix as my choice last month right when a Keanu Reeves obsession hit, and I was over the moon to realise my June pick was Gladiator when I’ve been spending as much time as possible playing Assassins Creed: Odyssey. One thing I hadn’t realised was how long the movie was, IMDB says it’s just over 2 and a half hours but I think I had some kind of special edition because my copy was just a few minutes shy of 3 hours! Why are all these famously amazing movies so darn long?!

Anyway, I’ll get straight to the point. I did enjoy Gladiator, in fact, I got really into it for the last hour or so, but it took me a long while to actually get invested. Call me uncultured (I wouldn’t argue with you) but Maximus’ story was just so similar to Spartacus’, and that’s a story I know in great detail thanks to the Starz! TV Show, which I know came later but cut me some slack.

Once I’d convinced myself to empty my thoughts and just enjoy the movie for what it was, I had a blast. I loved how Maximus managed to get the other gladiators to work together as one unit, and his rivalry with Commodus was intense. I also now know where the line “Are you not entertained?!”. I think where similar movies go all in for the action and choreographed fight scenes, Gladiator delivers some of the best dialogue I’ve heard in a movie. You can sense when someone’s about to dish out a killer speech, and those are the best moments.

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Best Bit: The scene where Commodus is praising this ‘Gladiator’ and asks him his name will be the moment that I always remember the movie for. “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

Worst Bit: I get that the focus of the movie is the hatred between Maximus and Commodus, but with such a long runtime I would have liked some of the side characters to have got a little more limelight.

Fun Trivia: The wounds on Russell Crowe’s face after the opening battle scene are real, caused when his horse startled and backed him into tree branches. The stitches in his cheek are clearly visible when he is telling Commodus he intends to return home.

My Rating: In true gladiator games style, I give it 4 thumbs up!

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blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.

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Shazam! (2019)

shazam-movie-poster-review-2019Director: David F. Sandberg

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Runtime: 132 Minutes

Main Cast: Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews

Plot: Whilst searching for his long-lost Mother, 14-year-old Billy Batson is summoned before ‘The Wizard’ to receive the powers of Shazam. His attempts to learn his superpowers (and profit from them) draws the attention of Thaddius Sivana, enraged with envy and out for revenge against Billy for taking what was his.

My Thoughts: I know next to nothing about Shazam, apart from the fact he used to be called Captain Marvel (what a confusing coincidence!) and to tell you the truth I wasn’t sold by the trailer. It didn’t give much away, but it looked goofy as hell and I couldn’t work out if it was intentional or just…terrible. I got the chance to see it a week early though and that was a chance I couldn’t pass up. Maybe it was my low expectations, but I loved the hell out of this movie!

Shazam strips everything back from modern superhero movies. There’s obviously still CGI involved but it isn’t flaunted in your face every 2 seconds. It can’t get away with simply looking great, it relies on a good storyline, which it has. Billy’s story is really quite heartbreaking, and he has flaws just like any other person. The bad guy actually has a decent backstory and genuine motives for being evil. To top it all off, it’s actually really funny, which for a DC movie is a rare sight!

And yes, it’s goofy. But it’s supposed to be, that’s all part of the charm. Adult Shazam acts like a 14-year-old with superpowers…because he’s a 14-year-old with superpowers. He’s irresponsible with them. Think of him as a family friendly Deadpool, which sounds like an insult but I mean it with the highest praise. DC even manages to make fun of itself a little, whilst still having some serious plot lines. Okay, I’m a little gutted they missed out on a legit chance to call Billy’s mother Martha, but maybe that would have been one step too far.

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Time will tell whether I’m on my own in the Shazam! fan club, but for now I’ll quite happily hold my hands up and say it’s the best DC movie made in recent years.

Oh – and is it just me or is Asher Angel (Billy Batson) secretly Arya Stark’s twin brother?!

Best Bit: When Billy and Freddy are trying to skip school by fooling the security guard. It’s such a small moment in the movie but I laughed so hard, and so did everyone around me. I won’t ruin it for you but keep an eye out for it!

Worst Bit: As well-developed as the bad guy was, I can’t help but feel like involving the 7 deadly sins was a bit of a waste. Apart from envy, the others don’t really serve any kind of purpose and they may as well have just been ordinary monsters.

Fun Trivia: Both DC Comics and Marvel Comics have a hero called Captain Marvel, whose films star Djimon Hounsou and release in 2019. However, both are different: Shazam! (2019) is a male teenager who received godly powers and a superhuman form. Captain Marvel (2019) is a female superhero who received alien powers.

My Rating: 4 and a half cases of your finest beer, thank you!

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