Gladiator

Gladiator ★★½

as a devout Ridleyite i'm sad to hate but his frequently obnoxious aspirations to class and good taste get in the way of what on paper i suppose actually does work as the kind of high-gloss modern throwback to peplum epics of yore that people insist it is. at least it cheerfully reproduces their acres of yammering about the Glory of Rome, the Dream that was Rome, and how Rome belongs to the people. which is weird because everything i ever heard about the Roman empire makes it sound completely terrifying. but soulful, blandly righteous square Russell Crowe gets his revenge on icky perv-o Joaquin Phoenix for killing his family, so i guess it all worked out for everybody. plus Ridley inexplicably shoots the fights, which all take place in a round area with no visual obstructions, either close-up or handheld waist-high, then shreds them in editing. i counted at least 3 shots in the chariot fight alone that were upside-down and i'll be good and goddamned if you can tell me why.