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January 2001

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In this issue:Ash makes some New Year's resolutions! Eeyore hates the seventies! The critics' picks of 2000! PLUS: Voodoo Warfare!
 
 
Gladiator ***
Ash

 
Yeah, yeah, I know this isn't a particularly timely review. Gladiator left theatres a long time ago, and the video release was in October or something, but I was so moved by Eeyore's glowing review of the film from last issue that I decided to write a response. Sure, his review may not have seemed particularly positive to the lay person, nor in fact did it actually have anything to do with the movie, but you'll notice that he refrained from actually referring to the film as either 'tripe' or 'bovine excrement', thus bestowing upon it his highest possible praise. As shocking as it may seem, however, I beg to differ with his opinion. It's not that Gladiator is a bad film. As Randy so succinctly put it in Scream 2: Back to Class, "Ridley Scott rules!" and is incapable of producing a bad movie (for the purposes of this review I'm choosing to ignore both GI Jane and Legend, which has the distinction of being the fruitiest film of all time, barring anything made by Gregg Araki). It is, however, a very stupid film. Gladiator is a period piece, set in a time when they hadn't yet invented contractions while speaking. The dialogue is so rich and cheesy you'll clog your arteries if you listen too closely, and despite repeated viewings I have yet to figure out why everybody in the Roman Empire has a British accent. It case you haven't had the pleasure of being intellectually insulted by this movie, it's about the general who became a slave, the slave who became a gladiator, the gladiator who became a hero, and the hero who became a busboy at Denny's after an unfortunate incident involving an underage hooker and an eightball of cocaine. The gladiator/general/slave/hero/ busboy in this case is played by Russell Crowe, an actor who used to be cool back when he did Sam Raimi movies and Australian skinhead pictures, but has now been relegated to hunk o' the month status. Gladiator gives him his best shot yet at proving himself to be a real actor, and he manages not to embarrass himself too much, except in one unfortunate scene where he falls into the Heather Donaghue school of "mucous = emotion" acting, a la Blair Witch. Another strong performance is turned in by horror movie vet Oliver Reed, whose credits include the unforgettable Venom and the entirely forgettable Condorman. In Gladiator, he plays Crowe's R. L. Emery-ian trainer Proximo, who, despite his gruff exterior, has a heart of gold, shockingly enough. Speaking of hearts, Reed managed to blow his up halfway during filming, requiring Ridley Scott to spend several million dollars creating an digital version of him to finish the film, similar to what he had to do with Joaquin Phoenix once they figured out he didn't know how to act. Phoenix plays Emperor Commodus and manages to prove, once again, that he is the worst person ever. How a mush-mouthed retard manages to continually weasel his way into respectable motion pictures is beyond me, but here he is once again. Commodus is evil, as evidenced by the fact that he wears black mascara and is often shot in low-angle. Phoenix's version of evil comes off as more whiney than threatening, and his attempt at being regal is essentially just speaking in an uncomfortably forced English accent. Which is, apparently, quite in keeping with the times.





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