Gladiator 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Every time I watch GLADIATOR, I’m surprised by how well it holds up over time. It’s just as slick and stylized today as it was back in 2000 and although it’s pretty much a remake of BEN-HUR, but with gladiator battles instead of chariot racing, GLADIATOR is done so incredibly well that it’s hard not to be impressed with Ridley Scott’s Oscar winning film. I feel like he’s tried to capture the feel, heart and emotion of GLADIATOR since then, but he really hasn’t come close.
Of course, he’s helped greatly by what I consider an amazing, career best performance from Russell Crowe. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Crowe owned Hollywood thanks to a series of great performances every year, starting with LA CONFIDENTIAL in 1997 and ending with A BEAUTIFUL MIND in 2001. Crowe won the Best Actor award for GLADIATOR and probably should have won for THE INSIDER, but his turn in GLADIATOR is one of the things that sets the film apart from some of the copycat films that have come since then. Although everyone remembers Crowe’s great turn as Maximus, Joaquin Phoenix also gives a great performance as the sleazy and villainous Commodus.
The plot for GLADIATOR is predictable and not necessarily original. We’ve seen this same story play out because what it boils down to is a basic revenge tale. The screenwriters do a great job of making sure the film never diverts from its main focus, but they also add some heartfelt moments that add depth to the film. The relationship between Maximus and Proximo is brief but effective, as is the relationship between Maximus and Marcus. These relationships aren’t there to pull on any emotional heartstrings, but they serve to remind the audience that Maximus is a human, even if his circumstances are clearly inhumane.
Of course, it’s important that the story works and the actors are fantastic, but GLADIATOR also happens to be very enjoyable. It’s fun to watch Maximus battle his way through ancient Rome, culminating in a climactic battle with the man that took everything from him. For a two and a half hour film, there are very few slow spots and Ridley Scott keeps everything moving along, thrusting Maximus on a path that the audience is invested in. Revenge films might be a dime a dozen these days, but GLADIATOR still stands among the best of them.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The Sapphire Series Blu-ray release of GLADIATOR from Paramount was one of my favorite video transfers that format has to offer. But it was aided by the fact it was such a drastic improvement over the original Blu-ray release and so the difference was night and day. The 4K transfer is a step up from the great Sapphire Series Blu-ray and takes everything the Blu-ray did well and ups the ante a bit. Colors are bright and vibrant while still staying true to the original vision and color temperatures. This is a little more “grainy” than what some 4K fans might be expecting, but it holds true to the source material and should please purists. Overall, this is a nice transfer for a great movie.
Audio: The upgraded DTS:X track is equally impressive as the video transfer, giving new life to the film, especially during the many battle scenes.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no special features exclusive to the 4K, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes ll of the special features found on the original Blu-ray release.