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Gladiator 4K Steelbook Review


“Gladiator” is still a top tier Ridley Scott film.

After defeating the Barbarian tribes in Germania, esteemed Roman General Maximus just wants to go home to his family. Unfortunately, Caesar wants him to become Emperor after he passes on. Jealous and angered by this revelation, Commodus kills his father (Caesar), takes the throne, sentences Maximus to death and has his family executed. Miraculously, Maximus survives, but becomes a slave and a gladiator. Eventually, the gladiator games make their way to Rome in front of the new Emperor Commodus. Maximus becomes a champ beloved by the people, but his mind is set on vengeance against Commodus.

Directed by Ridley Scott, “Gladiator” is an epic R rated historical drama of, well, epic proportions. This is the type of Hollywood vehicle that you can’t help but admire from nearly every aspect. The production values are top of the line, the visual effects were ahead of its time, the sets and costumes are award worthy, the battle sequences are nothing short of thrilling, Hans Zimmer’s beautiful score is perhaps his finest work, and Scott’s direction is among his finest work. It’s a grand achievement from a filmmaking standpoint to be sure.

The cast here is also as good as it gets. Russell Crowe became a star with his role as Maximus and it’s not hard to see why. He commands the screen in every frame. Joaquin Phoenix also catapulted into stardom with his riveting turn as the psychotic power hungry Commodus. Connie Nielsen doesn’t get enough credit as Lucilla- the brother of the monsterish Commodus who wants to protect her son and help her friend Maximus. Viewers can also expect memorable turns by Djimon Hounsou (a slave/gladiator/friend to Maximus named Juba) and Oliver Reed in his final role as the gladiator trainer who redeems himself Proximo.

Looking at the film 20 years later now though some flaws do stick out more. The drama is perhaps a little too overly choreographed as it almost feels like it’s on auto-pilot at times near the end. The script by John Logan, William Nicholson, and David Franzoni also owes a lot to “Ben-Hur” and touches on all too familiar themes of honor, violence, vengeance, death, and freedom. With that said, these elements don’t hamper an otherwise grand swords and sandals feature.

Note: This set contains both the theatrical and extended cut (which runs 15 minutes longer).


Presentation: 2.35:1 2160p. How does it look? The 4K transfer offers up an incredible image upgrade. This is especially evident in battle sequences.

Audio Track: DTS:X. How does it sound? A perfect track. The score has never sounded better and the action is thunderous. This track would bring a tear to any audio lover’s eyes.

* Blu-ray copy
* Digital copy
* An intro by Ridley Scott to the extended version
* Commentary by Ridley Scott, Pietro Scalia and John Mathieson on the theatrical version
* Commentary by Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe on the extended version. An involving track with lots of reminiscing and production stories.
* “Strength And Honor: Creating The World Of Gladiator”- A 7 part extra that explores the story development, weapons, costume design, production journals, Proximo, visual effects, and the film’s release and reactions to it.
* An alternate title design and 4 deleted/abandoned scenes
* “The Aurelian Archives”- A section featuring trailers, TV spots, a featurette on the Hans Zimmer score, a making of featurette, a Russell Crowe Q&A, behind-the-scenes footage of Crowe, a visual effects featurette, a journal by Spencer Treat Clark, and a 50 minute special on Gladiator games.
* Photo galleries, a costume design gallery, 2 production design galleries, a production design primer with Arthur Max, a storyboard archive, storyboard demo, multi-angle comparisons of storyboards and a weapons primer with Simon Atherton.
* “Visions From Elysium: Topic Portal”- A section featuring 303 extras about storyboards, CGI, history, production, titles, storyboards, costumes, interviews with cast members, locations, and, well, everything. I’ve never seen so many extras in my life.
* Theatrical cut- 11 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Ridley Scott
* “Scrolls Of Knowledge”- Enhanced movie viewing experience with trivia and so forth

June 19, 2020 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , ,

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