Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
Maximus is a powerful Roman general, loved by the people and the aging Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before his death, the Emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus, and a power struggle leaves Maximus and his family condemned to death. The powerful general is unable to save his family, and his loss of will allows him to get captured and put into the Gladiator games until he dies. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top so that he will be able to look into the eyes of the man who will feel his revenge. Written by
Chris "Morphy" Terry
In reality, emperor Marcus Aurelius died of the plague and Commodus ascended to the throne. He was a much loved emperor by the army and the lower classes, until he fell out of their favor due to his egocentric behavior. See more »
In the pan-and-scan version, when the chariots make their way into the Coliseum during the Roma-Carthage battle, a gladiator calls out. You can see clearly see blue sky and scaffolding above his head, where the remaining CGI tiers of the arena should be. See more »
Lucius will stay with me now. And if his mother so much as looks at me in a manner that displeases me, he will die. If she decides to be noble and takes her own life, he will die.
And as for you, you will love me as I loved you. You will provide me with an heir of pure blood, so that Commodus and his progeny will rule for a thousand years. Am I not merciful?
[Lucilla turns her head]
AM I NOT MERCIFUL?
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Both the Dreamworks & Universal logos are altered to appear gold in color so they match the opening theme of Maximus walking through a wheatfield. See more »
The movie is the story of Maximus (Crowe), a general who leads the Roman army to victory over Germania in the beginning of the movie. The dying emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, is watching this battle.
The emperor's son, Commodus, then arrives with his sister Lucilla, and it is discovered that Commodus fully expects to be announced the new emperor of Rome in a few days. Aurelius, however, has other plans--he wants to make Maximus emperor, and requests that of the general, who wants nothing more than to go home to his family.
I went into this movie having just watched Ben-Hur in my film studies class and having watched an episode of Xena only a couple of weeks earlier that featured the story of Marc Anthony and Cleopatra. So you could say I was in the perfect mindset to watch a "sword-and-sandal" movie. I wasn't sure what to expect, having somehow avoided all the hype that accompanied this movie. But I was not disappointed.
Gladiator features some wonderful cinematography by John Mathieson. The battle scenes are very graphic. (This movie is not for the squeamish, that's for sure.) There were some scenes in particular that really struck me, such as when Crowe appears to be floating over the ground very fast. The use of color and color tones added a great deal to the mood of the movie. Excellent.
The script was being written and re-written as the filming was going on, yet it doesn't show that the actors had no idea how the movie was going to end when they began filming. The acting is terrific. Russell Crowe is wonderfully cast as Maximus. Many reviewers agree that he is now officially a star. Joaquin Phoenix also proves his mettle as the emotionally troubled Commodus, whose behavior and emotion toward his sister could give anyone the creeps. Connie Nielsen makes you believe that, as Lucilla, she really is torn between natural loyalty to her brother and doing what she knows is right. Oliver Reed, in his last performance, is memorable in his role of Proximo, the former gladiator who is the owner of Maximus and brings him to Rome. In short, the actors were brilliant in their roles, not over-acting, but giving subtle, strong performances.
The script itself is very good. Although some elements are a little hard to believe--the fact that no one recognizes Maximus when he's a slave?--this film calls for a willing suspension of disbelief, which one would happily comply with. (It's really no fun to nitpick such a movie.)
It's true that this movie does pretty much follow the Braveheart formula. However, this movie includes some elements, such as the cinematography and the incredibly graphic battle scenes (one reviewer likened it to Saving Private Ryan, "only better"), that are spectacular in itself. Overall, a great movie that I highly recommend.
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