Let's get a few things straight here. I'm not the kind of guy
who goes to movies based on their poignant unblinking assesment
of the misery of the human condition. I'm not interested in
films that increase my brooding quotient (BQ). I like movies
when they're pretty, or action-filled, or funny. I'm a sucker
for cheap sentimentality. It is, frankly, embarassing for me
to admit that there are a half-dozen commercials running on
television right now that make me weep like a baby. But, there
So, given that, you know where I'm coming from for how I feel
about this movie. I really liked it. Lots of costumes that are
historically accurate enough for my tastes, lots of fighting,
and lots of blood. And the movie is pretty. There are lots of
scenes where the vistas are grand, where the music swells into
stratospheric realms, and the sentiment of the speeches wanders
into noble realms. I like that kind of stuff. But, then again,
I'm the kind of guy who'd rather visit Notre Dame than Jim Morrison's
So, down to the movie itself. Russel Crowe is actually convincing
as a general who has risen to the top through a military meritocracy.
Noble, but clearly a character who doesn't have any illusions
about his place in the world or whatever destiny the gods might
have for him. It's this self-effacing nature and his clear-eyed
assesment of his place in the world that gets him into trouble,
without which of course there would be no movie. This is, fundamentally,
a guy. Not an everyday Joe, because he's really, really
good at leading armies into battle. But he doesn't try to make
himself into a "great tragic figure", and that for me is the
movie's primary saving grace.
Nobody in this movie overacts, really. Even Joaquin Phoenix
(he's Causey, you know) doesn't play the emporer as a comic
villan. He's just able to portray someone you really, really
One other nice thing about this is that the violence is no-punches-pulled.
It's not like TV, where if this cat's got a trident and this
bad guy is coming at him, then he'll whack him upside the head
with the but of the trident. No, bad guy's gonna get disemboweled,
because that's the best solution to the problem.
Okay, there are plot holes big enough to drive the entire Ben
Hur chariot race through. And the cinematography and
score sometimes take themselves too seriously. But dammit, I
liked this movie. Go see it.