#243 / 365 – ‘Gladiator’ (2000) – 155 mins
IMDb Challenge #142 / 250 – Ranked #96 – DVD Collection
A man robbed of his name and his dignity strives to win them back, and gain the freedom of his people, in this epic historical drama from director Ridley Scott. In the year 180, the death of emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) throws the Roman Empire into chaos. Maximus (Russell Crowe) is one of the Roman army’s most capable and trusted generals and a key advisor to the emperor. As Marcus’ devious son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) ascends to the throne, Maximus is set to be executed. He escapes, but is captured by slave traders. Renamed Spaniard and forced to become a gladiator, Maximus must battle to the death with other men for the amusement of paying audiences. His battle skills serve him well, and he becomes one of the most famous and admired men to fight in the Colosseum. Determined to avenge himself against the man who took away his freedom and laid waste to his family, Maximus believes that he can use his fame and skill in the ring to avenge the loss of his family and former glory. As the gladiator begins to challenge his rule, Commodus decides to put his own fighting mettle to the test by squaring off with Maximus in a battle to the death.
Gladiator brought back the excitement and spectacle of the cinematic epic in glorious style. From the opening segment, where General Maximus, Roman fighters unleash hell on the Germania barbarians it is spectacular in its staging, and from there on in its a magical movie that grips you from start to finish. Just as previous epics like ‘Ben Hur’ and ‘Spartacus’ in their era, brought us the moving story of an individual on a platform of hundreds and thousands, Ridley Scott has injected a supreme flair here, achieving a superb balance of action and emotion – with the quiet drama between the battles involving the legendary late Richard Harris as the softly spoken Emperor proving very compelling.
Russell Crowe is totally believable in the Gladiator role and perfectly delivers the lines – “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” and “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, 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” – and are ones that really do stir the emotions.
I love this film and my only desire now, for which it demands is to see it on the biggest screen possible as it’s an inspirational film about strength, honour and courage, and one to admire and enjoy.
#244 / 365 – ‘What’s Your Number’ – 106 mins
Cinema Challenge #99 / 115
Did you know that any woman who’s had 20 or more partners stands a very good chance of remaining single for the rest of her life? Well, it must be true, because Ally Darling (Anna Faris) has just read it in a magazine article. Determined not to add to her tally, she enlists the help of neighbour Colin Shea (Chris Evans) to help track down all her exes just in case she overlooked Mr Right. This proves to be a journey full of surprises, as she revisits Disgusting Donald (Chris Pratt), nice Englishman Simon Forester (Martin Freeman) and even a guy who wouldn’t have known he was gay if he hadn’t dated her!
‘What’s Your Number’ is cliché ridden, lacks any originality, with the predictability in trying to find “the one” over a self-imposed deadline a bit ridiculous.
However, Anna Faris boasts a terrific comic performance – particularly when Ally tries to impress ex, Mr. Nice English (Martin Freeman) guy, with a range of accents from Eliza Doolittle to Borat. Also, Faris and Chris Evans do emit some great chemistry, which is slowly built, to make it an entertaining and frequently funny rom-com with a certain charm.
#245 / 365 – ‘Abduction’ – 106 mins
Cinema Challenge #100 / 115
It’s not unusual for a teenager to think his entire life is a lie. But few get to be proved right. For Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner), his suspicions are confirmed when his neighbour Karen (Lily Collins) comes across a website that reveals what missing children might look like today. And there, staring back at him, is his own face! So who are the people posing as his parents? Suddenly Taylor finds himself pursued by rival groups of killers and federal agents. On the run with Karen, he desperately tries to piece together his real identity. He also encounters Dr Bennett (Sigourney Weaver), who claims to be a friend of his biological father.
Abduction is a wanna-be Bourne Identity clone from director John Singleton who got his career off to a blinding start in 1991, with ‘Boyz N The Hood’ before going down the terrible end of the scale with ‘2 Fast 2 Furious. He does manage to pull off some decent action and hand-to-hand combat scenes in Abduction, even if they’re few and far between against a script that peppered with corny dialogue and a climax that is fraught with inconsistencies. It’s lead Taylor Lautner whose facial expressions are entirely limited does an average job, but here he’s clearly being marketed as the next big star coming off his post Twilight (I have never seen any of these movies) days, even Lautner’s own production company, ‘Tailor Made’ is behind this.
In the end, ‘Abduction’ isn’t terrible, but it’s not really that good either and why the supreme acting talents of Sigourney Weaver, Jason Isaacs and Alfred Molina are in this, is anyone’s guess – I can only assume they are short of change to pay the bills. Then as Georgina from our Film Club perfectly summed up – if you are a girl of the teenage variety, then you will lap up Abduction in an abundance.