Audio commentary - from director Ridley Scott, Director of Photography John Mathieson and Editor Pietro Scalia
2 Featurette - Gladiator Games (50 mins) and Hans Zimmer Profile (25 mins)
Production notes - Spencer Treat Clarks (Lucius) journal entries
Behind the scenes footage - 25 mins
Awards/Nominations - 25 mins
Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 149 mins .
MA15+ . PAL
An injured Maximus
OK, before I go on, let me stress that I have a complete review placed in DVD Now which will be out in November. I can't place the entire review here for contractual reasons, but I will give you a brief run-down of what to expect. I've been busting to let you guys know about it for two weeks and with official word now up on the DVD User Group I can spill the beans. This will be very brief because I don't want to write two completely different reviews that won't conflict.
Very quickly, the story is about a retiring/dying Emperor who calls upon General Maximus (Crowe), who has just won another and final battle, to take over control of Rome and to bring it back to what it was originally intended to be, a republic. The Emperor's son Commodus (Phoenix) doesn't take kindly to losing his inheritance and pops off dad for the role. He orders Maximus and his family to be killed and heads back for Rome.
You guessed it, Maximus escapes his execution only to find that his family weren't so lucky. He is captured and sold to Proximo (Oliver Reed) as a gladiator. As coincidence would have it, Commodus is restarting the Gladiator games back in the Colosseum and Proximo takes his squad to try their hand against Rome's best. Maximus has only one thing on his mind though, to win Gold in Sydney. Actually to exact vengeance on Commodus, but how do you do that Max when he's up their in the corporate box and you're out there in a stadium full of gladiators and tigers and you're holding a shield saying "Whiskas chunky meat, come and get it pussy cat"?
Onto the DVD I say...
I will say it now, this is the best looking DVD I have come across and that is saying something. I don't think I have seen such detail and sharpness. It truly is that good.
Colors are vibrant, blacks are black (and there are plenty of dark scenes throughout), saturation is perfect, the image is excellent. I think what hooked me in though was the detail, it is just so abundant.
I want to talk more about the video, but I can't because all the superlatives I used are in the magazine. Oh OK, it's bloody unreal that's for sure and as a quote:
"...magnificent, flawless, simply stunning!"
The best helmet ever.
We get a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a DTS 5.1 soundtrack. Let me stress, there is no DTS ES or DD EX on this disc. It is not stated on the cover as they don't want to confuse the buying public even more after bringing out the first DTS disc and because I didn't have access to any EX equipment I could check to see if in fact it was on there and just not mentioned.
Forget that, this disc sounds awesome and for those wondering about the Dolby vs DTS battle that will ensue in many a home theatre Colosseum, DTS will be the one left standing.
There IS a difference, you WILL notice it, DTS gets the thumbs down signal from Caesar and kills off Dolby on this one folks.
All other miniscule factors such as dialogue levels and such are fine with nothing to worry about. Your 5.1 system will be fully utilised no matter which sound format you choose.
There are two discs here so I'll skim through the lot very quickly...
The first disc contains the audio commentary by Ridley Scott, his editor and some other guy. It's a decent commentary which provides more of a narrative look at the movie rather than a detailed explanation. Also included are animated menus and the DTS piano intro (no dolby intro).
The second disc is the beefier one.
"From the Cutting Room Floor" is a collection of 11 deleted scenes with commentary by Scott and a final montage of other deleted footage accompanied by a musical score.
"The Making of Gladiator" is a 25 minute featurette showing some cool before and after effects with interviews of cast and crew.
"Gladiator Games - Roman Bloodsport" is a 50 minute feature looking back on the gladiator games, the history and such.
"Hans Zimmer - Composing Gladiator" - how did the composer come up with that score?
"My Gladiator Journal" - a young actor's on-set view of the production (Lucius).
"Cast and Crew" biographical notes
This is a 'must have' disc. If you enjoyed the movie, as I did, then you'd be a fool not to have it in your collection. For some reason Gladiator didn't appeal to everyone which is a shame but, in my opinion, such a disc deserved a grand presence on DVD and boy does it get one.