[Screen It]


(2000) (Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix) (R)

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Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Action/Adventure: Having been sentenced to die for not supporting the new emperor, a Roman general escapes and then seeks out revenge upon the corrupt ruler.
General Maximus (RUSSELL CROWE) is one of the greatest military leaders ancient Rome has ever known. Victorious over the last army of Germanic renegades, Maximus looks forward to returning home to his wife and son and living the peaceful life of an everyday farmer.

Yet, the dying Emperor, Marcus Aurelius (RICHARD HARRIS), who is distraught over what Rome has become, wants to hand over his power to Maximus under the condition that he then turn it over to the people through the now subservient Roman senate. Maximus isn't thrilled with the idea for he has no experience in politics, but before he can give the emperor an answer, Aurelius' son, Commodus (JOAQUIN PHOENIX), the biological heir to the throne, covertly kills his father and then asks for the general's support.

When Maximus doesn't give it, the new Emperor orders him and his family to be executed. While Maximus manages to escape, his family doesn't. Shocked from that eventual discovery and ill from a wound he received during his escape, Maximus passes out, only to find that he's been captured and to be sold as a slave.

Purchased along with fellow slave Juba (DJIMON HOUNSOU) by former gladiator, turned promoter, Proximo (OLIVER REED), and posing as a Spaniard, Maximus suddenly finds himself competing in small gladiator contests outside Rome where he must kill or risk being killed. As his reputation grows, Maximus soon discovers that he may have a way to strike revenge on Commodus.

He's returned to the capital with his sister, Lucilla (CONNIE NIELSEN), who's happy to see her young son, Lucius (SPENCER TREAT CLARK), but isn't thrilled about her corrupt brother being her people's ruler, which also holds true for Senator Gracchus (DEREK JACOBI) and other members of the Senate. As Maximus gets ever closer to once again facing Commodus, who's becoming increasingly dangerous and corrupt, it's only a matter of time before events come to a head between the two.

Older male teens seem the film's likeliest audience, although any kids who are into grand, old-fashioned gladiator/Roman epics will probably also want to see it.
For intense graphic combat.
  • RUSSELL CROWE plays a former Roman general who becomes a slave, loses his family, and then must compete in gladiator contests where he must kill others lest they kill him. Although his actions are often brutal, they're either to serve his country or protect himself, and he repeatedly states that he simply wants to go home (at least until his family is killed).
  • JOAQUIN PHOENIX plays the corrupt and somewhat incestuous emperor who kills his father to usurp the Empire, orders Maximus and his innocent family executed, and generally is a bad and corrupt ruler.
  • CONNIE NIELSEN plays the new Emperor's sister who wishes to help overthrow him, and had some sort of past relationship with Maximus.
  • RICHARD HARRIS plays the ailing, former Emperor who wants the era of dictatorships to end and for the power of Rome to return to the people.
  • DJIMON HOUNSOU plays another slave who helps Maximus.
  • OLIVER REED plays a slave owner (and former slave and gladiator himself) who uses slaves to compete in gladiator contests for entertainment and subsequent financial interests.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated action/adventure film. Violence is rated as extreme due to a large number of people being killed in various fashions, occasionally with extremely bloody and/or gory results (including beheadings, dismemberment and a person being cut in half). The battle scenes and gladiator contests, along with other moments, may also be rather intense and/or suspenseful to viewers, result in some tense family moments (grieving over deaths), and may cause some kids to want to imitate all of the swordplay and related fighting.

    The corrupt emperor obviously has an extreme case of bad attitudes, while other characters buy and sell slaves to be used in gladiator contests for entertainment and money-making purposes. Profanity consists of 1 use of the "s" word, some characters drink what may or may not be alcoholic liquids, the emperor makes some incestuous comments toward his sister, and some men's bare butts are briefly seen.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to take a closer look at our more detailed content listings for more specific information on whatever may be of concern to you.

  • Various characters, in different scenes, drink beverages that may or may not be alcoholic in nature.
  • We see a horse carrying a headless person and moments later see an enemy solider holding the severed head that he then drops to the ground (we briefly see a close-up of it with its bloody stump).
  • A large scale battle results in many warriors on both sides being injured or killed, with varying degrees of blood (some wounds and deaths are relatively bloodless, while others are somewhat graphic - including a hand being severed, legs being sliced, people being impaled, etc.).
  • After that battle, Maximus washes his hands in a bowl of water that looks red from blood.
  • Several more men who are killed are bloody, while Maximus touches under his "shoulder pad" (where he was sliced) and pulls his hand out to show blood on his fingers. Later, as he rides along, blood runs down his arm. We later see a close-up of this arm wound that includes maggots crawling around in it.
  • We see several charred bodies (some on the ground, others just the blackened legs of two that have been strung up).
  • We see Maximus slicing off the Roman soldier markings on his arm (obviously resulting in bleeding).
  • We see some urine running down a man's leg before his first gladiator contest.
  • People who are wounded or killed during a gladiator contest are bloody.
  • We briefly see a man as he's decapitated.
  • During another gladiator contest, various contestants are killed, including one who's cut in half, and other bloodletting occurs.
  • Blood comes from a man's foot after he's stabbed there (and we then see some run from his mouth as well).
  • More wounded or killed people are bloody.
  • Blood comes out when a person is stabbed, while a man's nose is bloody from blows during another contest.
  • We hear the sound of a knife slowing being driven into a person's throat.
  • Commodus obviously has extreme cases of both for killing his father to usurp his power and become Emperor, for ordering the execution of Maximus and his family, and for generally being a corrupt ruler who also has incestuous longings for his sister.
  • Various characters buy and sell slaves to be used in gladiator contests for profit.
  • Trying to goad Maximus into attacking him, Commodus tells him that his son "squealed like a girl" when he was nailed up and that his wife "moaned like a whore" when the troops ravished here.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may be unsettling, disturbing and/or rather suspenseful to some viewers.
  • Roman troops approach Maximus' country home and we know they are there to execute his wife and son (and they do, but other than a quick glimpse of their horses running over the boy, we really only see the aftermath).
  • Someone puts a snake into someone else's bed, but we never see what happens from that.
  • Swords/Spears/Arrows/Clubs/Catapults/Knives: Used to threaten, wound, or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Sh*thole," "Bitch" (for mother) and "Whore."
  • All of the swordplay and other gladiator-type fighting may prove to be enticing to some kids to imitate.
  • An entertainer blows a flammable liquid out over a torch, creating a brief but large fireball in the air.
  • None.
  • A moderate amount of adventurous and/or suspenseful music plays in various scenes during the film.
  • None.
  • At least 1 "s" word is used.
  • A man complains about being sold "queer" giraffes that won't mate.
  • We see most of a slave's bare butt as he wears a cloth wrap (that looks like a thong from the back) and then see some brief glimpses of a man's bare butt.
  • A comment is made about a Senator and his mistresses.
  • With Maximus' popularity increasing as a gladiator, Proximo asks him what he wants, "Girl? Boy?" (but Maximus wants neither).
  • Commodus somewhat lustfully looks at Lucius (his nephew) and then later does the same to his sister, telling her to stay with him for the night and to kiss him (she does the latter on the forehead but doesn't do the former). In a later scene, he runs his hand along her clothed chest, neck and lips and acts likes he's going to kiss her, but doesn't. Eventually, he commands that she'll bear a pure blood child for him (but this never happens).
  • Trying to goad Maximus into attacking him, Commodus tells him that his wife "moaned like a whore" when the troops ravished her again and again.
  • None.
  • There's talk that Lucilla is a widow, but we don't know for how long (and don't see her grieving over the matter).
  • Lucilla grieves over her father's death (Commodus feigns doing so, but he was responsible for it).
  • Maximus grieves over the murders of his wife and son.
  • The historical accuracy of and/or artistic license taken by the film.
  • Why Maximus didn't want to take control of the Empire.
  • The hints of incest or incestuous longings by Commodus for his sister.
  • Although we don't see the beheading, we do see a horse carrying a headless person and moments later see an enemy solider holding the severed head that he then drops to the ground (we briefly see a close-up of it with its bloody stump).
  • Maximus and his troops engage some Germanic tribes in battle where the Romans start by firing catapults holding burning masses that land upon the tribes along with burning arrows (that explode in the woods and catch many trees and people on fire or impale the latter respectively). The survivors then fire their arrows at the Romans and then begin hand to hand combat with them where many people on both sides are wounded or killed (by being sliced, impaled, beheaded, dismembered, etc.). This scene goes on for several minutes and even includes a dog attacking a man.
  • Hugging his father to his chest, Commodus smothers him to death.
  • Lucilla slaps Commodus twice.
  • A guard strikes Maximus on the back of the head.
  • A guard prepares to execute Maximus, but the general strikes him and another man and then kills both while freeing himself (via sword impalement or slicing across a face). He then throws a sword through another man and then encounters a guard on horseback who slices open Maximus' arm before being killed himself.
  • Roman troops on horseback run over a boy. Later, when Maximus shows up at this scene, he finds burned bodies in the field, a burned home and the charred bodies of his wife and son that have strung up (we only see the dangling legs).
  • A man is hit in the chest with an arrow during a gladiator contest.
  • During some testing for gladiator qualification, a larger slave repeated hits Maximus with a wooden sword (in the gut and on the arm), but Maximus purposefully does not fight back.
  • During a gladiator contest, a man is hit in the face with a spiked ball at the end of a chain (resulting in blood squirting out from the impact). Various contestants on either side are wounded, dismembered and/or killed (via being sliced, impaled, etc.) with varying degrees of blood/gore.
  • Maximus single handedly takes on several competitors in another gladiator contest and hits and cuts other with his sword (slicing and stabbing). After dispatching the rest (who are wounded or killed), he then battles one last man, stabs him several times and then decapitates him.
  • A larger gladiator contest takes place in the Coliseum, recreating a former glorious battle where Maximus and the other slaves must battle Roman forces in chariots. This several minute sequence includes people being wounded or killed by being knocked down, others shot with arrows or hit with swords, and chariots overturning. Another person is cut in half by a rod sticking out from a quickly passing chariot, yet another is smashed into a wall, and spears impale a third.
  • Maximus grabs Lucilla by the neck when she visits him in a cell.
  • Maximus fights a former champion during another several minute match that now throws live, but partially restrained tigers into the mix. After being attacked several times, Maximus finally kills one of them while also fighting the other gladiator (eventually stabbing him in the foot).
  • Guards/soldiers and slaves clash with several people being killed (one is hit with arrows and stabbed many times).
  • Guards stab a man to death (seen from behind them).
  • A person is hung and then shot with several arrows.
  • A person stabs another person to wound them.
  • Two men battle in another several minute gladiator contest (punches, kicks, slicing, etc.), with injuries and then one being killed in the end (by a knife slowly being driven into their throat).
  • Another man dies from injuries sustained in a contest.

  • Reviewed April 27, 2000 / Posted May 5, 2000

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