Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
The fusion of the ancient and the modern -- even to the point of some sly echoes of our own sports-mad society -- is seamless. Gladiator does indeed deliver the glory that was Rome, but it also clinically dissects the assumptions on which it was built.
This tale of power and revenge proves that there are still some people in the movie business who know what they're doing.
A visually astonishing picture that brings script, performance and, alas, displays of violence up to the modern standard.
Dallas Morning News:
Gladiator is what championship is all about. Thrilling and exciting, it embraces technical standards of filmmaking rarely anticipated in earlier epics.
New York Post:
An exhilarating, sweeping epic that begs to be seen on the largest possible screen.
New York Observer:
Ultimately, Gladiator is an honorable and inoffensive spectacle with nothing extraordinary to recommend it.
Though the digital effects lack the weight and conviction of their equivalents in old Cecil B. De Mille movies, Ridley Scott's sword-and-sandal epic has some of the intensity of old Hollywood in terms of storytelling, spectacle, and violence.
Wall Street Journal:
Crowe doesn't use tricks in this role to court our approval. He earns it the old-fashioned way, by daring to be quiet, if not silent, and intensely, implacably strong.
Paul Clinton (CNN.com),
Highly visual entertainment with lots of blood and action.
In the end, Gladiator is overdrawn and too insubstantial for its own good, just like the old days, but it satisfies as entertainment on a grand scale.
This film is the first 'sword-and-sandal' epic since the mid-1960s.
Time for a little gladiatorial gore with your Milk Duds. Gladiator is here, and it's big, glorious and eminently dumb.
Gladiator is filled with brilliant filmmaking and features outstanding performances, but it's neither profound enough nor pop enough to be great -- it's mournful, serious, beautiful and, finally, pointless.
Ridley Scott thrusts us so close to the combat that all we see is a lot of whirling and thrashing, a sword thrust here and there, a spurt of blood, a limb severed. There's hardly a scene that is cleanly and coherently staged in open space.
New York Magazine/Vulture:
Without Russell Crowe's dynamism holding it all together, Gladiator might have devolved into a rash of overblown pandering.
New York Daily News:
If there's a soft spot in your heart for the sword-&-sandal epic, then you'll swoon with giddy delight over Gladiator.
New York Times:
Gladiator suggests what would happen if someone made a movie of the imminent extreme-football league and shot it as if it were a Chanel commercial.
Gladiator is a canned experience, a film that flails around awkwardly trying to find a reason to exist.
San Francisco Chronicle:
This Ridley Scott film, his best in years, re-envisions ancient Rome for the aughts and makes it safe to go back in the Colosseum.
Gladiator's combination of grim sanctimony and drenching, Dolby-ized dismemberings left me appalled.
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Gladiator is a triumph. On the surface, it's a terrific yarn with strong, rounded characters, agonizing suspense and visceral thrills. Look closer and you'll find rich historical themes, and a harrowing critique of violence as amusement.
Globe and Mail:
The Roman costume drama, all dressed to the IX's, has taken a long holiday from the big screen.
Gladiator is quite a good movie -- a big, fat, rousing, intelligent, daring, retro, many-adjective-requiring entertainment.
The cast is strong (notably Nielsen as Commodus's vacillating sister, and the late Oliver Reed, unusually endearing as a gladiator owner), the pacing lively, and the sets, swordplay and Scud catapults impressive.
A truly transporting trip back nearly 2,000 years.
Self-proclaimed 'world-creator' Scott only intermittently obliterates the turgid narrative and mediocre dialogue.