Gladiator
2000
****
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris, Tommy Flanagan

Victorious Roman General Maximus refuses to pledge loyalty to the patricidal and power-hungry emperor Commodus. After he finds his family murdered, Maximus is captured and sold into slavery, but he returns to Rome as a gladiator. This long, powerful and occasionally pompous historical revenge drama revived the sword and sandals epics for a brief moment. The film is consistently gripping, but it should have featured a slightly less one-dimensional villain. It’s visually stunning, of course, like all of Ridley Scott’s works. The film won five Academy Awards, which includes Russell Crowe’s mesmerising lead performance. Oliver Reed died during the shoot and his performance was completed with CGI.