April 27, 2011
Why Gladiator is the best film ever made
And why wouldn't you? It features Tom Hanks, the Cal Ripken Jr. of actors, Bill Paxton, who made the best tornado-themed movie ever and Kevin Bacon (for the ladies of course).
Throw in that Ron Howard, the most successful ginger ever, is the director and the fact that it is about the space program and it's a can't-miss.
However, I will digress that it's perhaps the greatest film ever. That goes to Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott.
Buy Gladiator on Blu-ray.
Now I probably talk a lot more about Star War, Star Trek and Indiana Jones but those are more like guilty nerd pleasures than actual "greatest films ever." They have plenty of fluff in them that make them more like dessert than the main course.
Gladiator, on the other hand, no matter how you break it down, is the best action flick. It's the best character flick. It's the best historical flick. It's good on so many levels, and anytime I see it on television, I'm definitely watching the whole thing. How can I tell that Gladiator is so good? Consider the following...
1. Every movie since it that has been made has the "walking through the wheat field as a woman sings" scene - Seriously, it's perhaps the most over-used movie cliche since 2000. Any movie thats even remotely historic or set anywhere near the time of the Romans (or medieval, or even space-age, people just aren't original anymore) has the walking through the wheat field scene. What's great too is that Scott completely improvised that. He was like "Oh wheat? Jerry put on those Roman gauntlets and walk around, I'm going to shoot your hand touching the wheat for like four minutes on film."
2. How many HBO series have been about Gladiators now? - Like 80? I mean come on HBO... just stick to boxing.
3. I still feel like Russell Crowe could kick anyones ass - Was this possible the best casting choice of all time? During the entire movie did ever you feel like "oh well, a guy like Russell couldn't actually do that." Nope. Crowe is the kind of guy that if you meet in the bar you avoid hitting on his girlfriend at all costs and actually ask him if he'd like to take your girlfriend home.
4. It came before the rush of epic movies - You can thank the Lord of the Rings for that, but Gladiator was kind of on the cutting edge of the "epic movie" in the late 90s, early 2000s. Now they're a dime a dozen. What is crazy too is how remarkable the CGI holds up even though its 11 years old (Watch Jurrassic park and the CGI dinosaurs look like Sega Genesis monsters), and the fact that the first battle scene in the movie wasn't CGI at all.
5.Joaquin Phoenix - He's legitimately crazy, but perhaps the best villain I've seen in a movie. He's so good in fact, you feel sorry for him for much of the movie. Just wonderfully acted and this was before he started to embark on his rapping career.
6. It's not an art house film - Screw those. Go back to France.
7. Ridley Scott is not James Cameron - Here's the thing, Ridley Scott is british, and he started out making music videos and I believe commercials meaning that he doesn't BS like other directors such as James Cameron. Cameron will go on and on and on about how artful his 80s action movies are and nobody gives a rats ass. What Cameron wont tell you is that his movies are woefully lacking in any sort of depth. Since studios give him 200 million dollars to make movies, they generally tend the be fairly entertaining because the guy can do anything he wants. Scott? He's a workman, he's put out great flicks like Alien and Blade Runner and when you listen to him, he's most interested in making it a movie thats great for the audience than about talking about how great he is.
8. It's about Rome - I wouldn't generally want to live in the past, but if I could live in Rome, I would sooo be in.
9. Perhaps the greatest main character death scene of all time - It barely beats out John Wayne getting shot in the "Sands of Iwo Jima" and Spock dying in "Star Trek 2."
10. 11 years later, nobody is debating whether or not it should have won Best Picture - Seriously go back and look at who wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It's an interesting look back at what our culture was thinking at that time and you'll usually respond with "Jesus, why the hell did they pick that movie?" but when you come across Gladiator, you're like "Yup, that sounds about right."