Some other titles I considered for this post were: "Gladiator: As Boring As I Remember"; "Gladiator: Best Picture? Seriously?"; and "Gladiator: I Think 300 Was Better."
And I do think the movie would have been a lot better if it HAD been more like 300. The fighting wasn't bad, despite the crappy CGI, and I like the idea of a gladiator with dueling death wish and vengeance complexes. Even the "Daddy loved you better than me!" angle wasn't the worst part. The worst part were the interminable conversations about feelings and politics and the interminable shots of wheat and weather. Talk about pathetic fallacy. Emphasis on pathetic. The movie really forces these grandiose statements about democracy and the mob and violence and blah blah blah. Which seem totally out of place (and horribly written) in a movie like this, but also fatally flawed. Better directors than you, Ridley Scott, have wrestled with how to make a movie critiquing celebrations of violence as cool and entertaining that also, cinematically, make violence look really, well, cool and entertaining. But even more than that, you can't have a movie that makes the smug point that the gladiatorial games were the mark of Rome's corruption and barbarism while, AT THE SAME TIME, making those very games the vehicle for the hero's vengeance and redemption. Oops.
So what do you think, Nat? Is this on the list because it explicitly states (rather than demonstrates or explores) a facile and easy political point ala Crash? Is it the academy's love affair with epics? The acting wasn't bad--Joaquin in particular was MUCH better than his character was written--but why do people love this movie?