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Rock-Em Sock-Em Action Packed Fun:
A Review of "Gladiator"

by Margaret T. Minnick

Forget politics. Summer 2000 is all about the movies. Chilly multiplexes with stadium seating and chewy candy pulling the fillings right outta my teeth -- that's what summer is all about this year.

Why am I so hyped up on the movie junk? Last night we went to see Gladiator. That was one rock-em sock-em funfest, if you ask me. And, as a departure from most films anointed with the title "Blockbuster" before they're even in theaters, it didn't feature any well-known (well-worn) Hollywood Personality. By this I mean that Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, and Tom Hanks were all conspicuously absent. Instead we were blessed with actors who I could actually believe as the characters, because I hadn't seen their faces in every damn movie I've ever seen.

(Speaking of Julia Roberts, I recently rented Notting Hill, and I just have to say: That movie sucks! I don't even know why Hugh Grant would've wanted to go out with Julia. Her character was what we call a Big Bi-otch where I come from.)

The high-brow critics around Austin were kind of lukewarm on Gladiator. Personally I don't get it. They should just be thankful that they got to see an action movie that also featured some significant character development. With the line of work that they're in, that's got to brighten the day.

Chris Garcia of the Austin American-Statesman lamented the fact that the film did not provide an examination of why the Romans were so enthusiastic about watching people kill eachother. I think Chris took a few too many liberal arts classes in college. Obviously, the only reason the Romans watched the gladiators was because they did not have movies like Gladiator to bring the blood and guts into their lives via special effects. Anyone who thinks we don't like the blood and guts as much as the Romans did is smoking the crack. It ain't any more complex than that.

And this brings us to the action. The battle scenes in Gladiator were probably better than the real thing. They were full of the aforementioned rock-em sock-em action, and featured a lot of fancy visual tricks (slow, fast, herky-jerky, blurry motion, etc.) so that I felt like it didn't really matter that I wasn't quite sure what was going on. The best part, of course, was the cameo by Busta Rhymes. I wasn't sure until the last second that it was him riding by on that chariot. Keep your eyes peeled or you'll miss it.

All in all, I have to recommend Gladiator. Don't take kids under 10, unless you've already taken them to a lot of gory movies and they're totally screwed up anyway.

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Russell Crowe pauses before lobbing off a head.

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