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-   -   GLADIATOR - Extended Version - Quick review (https://forum.dvdtalk.com/dvd-reviews-recommendations/434239-gladiator-extended-version-quick-review.html)

mjeeves 08-15-05 06:47 AM

GLADIATOR - Extended Version - Quick review
Hi Guys,

Received my "GLADIATOR - EXTENDED VERSION" DVD over the weekend. And I thought I'd post my thoughts here. This is NOT an indepth review as I hope DVDTalk reviewers will do that. But it will be interesting to see if they come across the same things that I did...


The DVD opens with a menu that allows you to choose between the Theatrical Cut and the Extended Cut of the film. The Extended Cut opens with a very brief intro by Director Ridley Scott.

The Extended Version of GLADIATOR is a wonderful version of an already great film in my opinion. I think this Extended Cut improves on the film greatly - adding more character moments particularly for Commodus (Jaoquin Phoenix) and Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), more battle carnage and more battle aftermath footage. The drawback is that much of this footage was seen as deleted scenes on the original 2 disc DVD release (although that was poor non-anamorphic video while this is pristine looking!). However, there is some new stuff here and there and there is also some deleted scenes on the old DVD that are NOT in the Extended Cut or on this DVD at all (the lions feeding on the Christians and the treasure chest moments being two such examples). All in all, I thought the extra scenes improved the film without making the already long film drag. A great film made greater.


The video is awesome as it was on the original release. It is every bit as good as the original release with excellent sharpness, depth, color, and little in the way of artifacts, shimmer, print damage or edge enhancement. A really good transfer that shows off Ridley Scott's stylish work and stylistic colors.


The audio is a BIG matter for debate and something I'd like the HTF reviewers to check out as well. This release misses out on the DTS 6.1 ES track (infact it misses out on DTS totally). I loved the GLADIATOR DTS track on the first release and it is sorely missed here, especially as I thought the Dolby Digital 5.1 track on this new release is not to hot and infact quite disappointing. I find it a little compressed sounding and during the chariot / gladiator battle (the first in the coloseum) when Crowe is shouting his orders... I detected noticeable distortion! Annoying, as this was not noticed on the earlier DVD. The sound is O.K. but it is not as good as on the original release and that is not just because the DTS track is missing but the Dolby Digital one is inferior as well.


The extras are very good here but there is little overlap from this release and the 2 disc original. The audio commentary here is a newly recorded one with Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe. It plays ONLY over the Extended Cut and NOT the theatrical cut. Crowe seems to dominate the chat with Scott asking him questions and Crowe answering and talking and talking and talking. Even when Scott does chime in, it isn't long before Crowe interupts him and carries on. Having said that, the commentary is very informative and covers ground that was not covered on the original release's commentary.

I did not use the trivia track, so I cannot comment on that.

I flicked through the other supplements on Discs 2 and 3. The documentaries seem well made and the picture is excellent (and anamorphic to boot!). But I found the speakers and interviewees somewhat dry. Most of the cast appear in "on the set" vintage interviews although Connie Nielsen's stuff seems to be quite new (wow... she is a looker nowadays!). The "deleted scenes" are mainly storyboards mixed with footage or test material, and the trailers and TV spots are good (you get 20. That's right 20 TV spots!). There is no "making of" or "Gladiator" documentary like on the original release, and also the "cast and crew", "Lucious filming journel", and the "production notes" are also not on this release. The new stuff is good though and very indepth. From an extras point-of-view, you really need both releases to cover everything.

With the extra scenes seemlessly put back in the film, the wonderful picture quality and the new extras, this release is excellent. However, the lack of DTS and the inferior audio, and the lack of overlap will probably prevent people getting rid of their original 2 disc DVD sets.

Over to you DVDTalk reviewers for a more indepth review, but please see what you make of the distortion in the Dolby Digital track. Interesting.

Firon 08-15-05 08:26 AM

Thanks for the review!

ceeece 08-15-05 03:03 PM

Dang, I just sold my 2-disc in anticipation of the extended cut. Oh well. Thanks for the review.

digitalfreaknyc 08-19-05 11:20 PM

Someone on the "import" forum on another board says there's no problem with the track. No distortion.

Premise 08-23-05 05:40 PM

Digitalbits has a review up.

PGHFlyer 08-24-05 07:27 AM

There is a 200 minute documentary on the making of the film on Disc 2.

Rypro 525 08-24-05 08:34 AM

i wonder, is the original Superbowl teaser on the disc? I know its not on the other dvd.

Halofan2 08-26-05 12:39 AM

Here is my review of the set. I hope you all enjoy it. And note, I do plan to write more DVD reviews here on the boards so let me know what ya think.

Gladiator: Extended Edition

The Film

I still remember sitting in the theater seeing 'Gladiator' in 2000. It was finally a film of that year that wow'ed me. It was a film for that year that finally had an emotional grip on me. And it was finally one of the very rare occasions th Academy had their heads screwed on straight.

Our story begins with General Maximus (Russell Crowe, in his finest moment to date) as he's the leader of the Roman army and they've just conquered Germania. The Emperor and trusted friend Marcus Aurelius (the late and great Richard Harris) plans to grant Maximus his one wish, to go home to his family and live the rest of his life in peace. However, our hero must honor Marcus' one last wish; give Rome back to the Senate. The Emperor's son Commodus and daughter Lucilla arrive (Joaquin Phoenix and Connie Nielsen) and greet their father and celebrate the victory. Commodus learns of his father's plans to make Maximus emperor and while he's around, he won't have any of it. The jealous son kills the emperor, lies about it, kills our hero's family and sentences Maximus to be assassinated. One problem; Maximus kills every last S.O.B. that tries to murder him. He returns home to find his peace disrupted and passes out briefly. And when he awakes, he's now a Roman gladiator. One with a vengeful soul to murder the corrupt emperor and do Marcus Aurelius' last wish.

I had honestly forgotten how magnificent this film is. Sure I knew it was great, but I needed to be reminded of what an achievement this is. Ridley Scott said "The most important thing is story and characters," and here he absolutley excels at that. I can't remember the last time I hated a character like I do Commodus. He whines, he moans, and above all he's a coward. Delivering it all sublimely and never annoyingly is Joaquin Phoenix. Every film he's done since, I can't help but pitcture him as Commodus. Not to take anything away from him, he's great but it's here where he shows what a great actor he is.

Perhaps the reason Commodus works so well as a villan is because Maximus is the polar opposite. Regardless of how Russell Crowe acts in person, he's one of the best actors working today. As a character, Maximus is one of my favorite heroes of all-time. He's respectable, devoted, and isn't afraid to open a can when need be. Crowe is dead on with the delivery and you couldn't ask for a better hero than what was given to us in this film.

I've yet to come up with a character in this film that doesn't have some type of back story. It's a rare film where you feel some type of emotion for every character, no matter how little it may be. It doesn't hurt at all that not one actor does a poor job of their character (yes, even Spencer Treat Clark does a good job.)

Ridley Scott is a tremendous director and here he makes sure no detail goes untouched. This word he's created just engulfs you. Rome has never been portrayed better on film, and thats saying alot when you consider how many films have been about the Empire. Scott manages to recreate the feel, the look and even the smell of the Ancient Empire. During the collesium sequences you almost as feel as there is a sword next to you and you're in the fight. An interesting fact to note is that athletes back then, just like now, did product endorsments and Scott did consider including this into the movie.

The Extended Edition of this film adds 17 minutes back in and I wish this had been what they released to theaters. The extra footage is magnificent and made an already tremendous film that much better. A personal favorite involves Commodus going to his fathers dead body, taking a sword and hacking at a statue of him once he realizes Maximus is alive. Out of the two editions on this DVD, this is the one that should always be watched. It's also how 'Gladiator' should always be remembered.

'Gladiator' will certainly go among the ranks of "Best Pictues of All-Time". It's one of Ridley's finest pieces and is almost impossible to find a flaw. I loved this film immensley when it was released and now I can treasure it in it's entirety. Everyone involved should pat themselves on the back for a remarkable piece of filmmaking.

10 out of 10

The Look

Both editions of the film are presented in 2:35.1 anamorphic widescreen. If I can find one fault with this DVD as a whole, it's that during the 'Extended Edition' very, very few specs rear their ugly heads in there. These are during the scenes integrated back into the film. The great thing to note is you have to be looking for them to notice seeing as how I missed some when I looked twice. However, for the scenes that were in the theatrical cut they're perfect. The colors shine brightly when they need to. R. Scott is a master at making his films have a 3-Dimensional look and this is no exception. The darks work terrific and everything is vibrant. Add this to the demo selection folks.

10 out of 10

The Sound

'Gladiator' comes to us in Dobly Digital 5.1 Surround. No DTS, which is a disappointment to some who have the setup. This track however had me rocked. It's probably the best sounding disc I've heard all year. No booms to speak of and no sound imperfections this magical ears could detect. Be prepared to wake up the neighbors.

10 out of 10

The Goodies

Disc One
Serving us first is an all-new audio commentary by director Ridley Scott and first-timer to commentaries Russel Crowe. The respect between these two is evident and only enhances a strong outing by both on this track. It's insightful, entertaining and most importantly, deserves a listen more than once. "Are You Not Entertained?" is a new trivia text track that details production and historical facts. Interestingly, it also advises you where to check out the features on the remaining two discs for certain parts of the film. The track also comments on the production of this new DVD and why DTS was left out. Finally, if you watch the Extended Edition you get a nice opening video with Ridley Scott.

Disc Two
Making you way here, you'll find the only extra on this disc which is the 200-minute documentary "Strength and Honor: Creating the World of Gladiator". It's broken up into seven-parts and you can either watch them seperate or in their full form and blissfully come in anamorphic widescreen. "Tales of the Scribe" covers how Ridley was named director and how the film developed into what it was. "The Tools of War" covers the making of the armor and weapons and also chronicles how the battle scenes were staged. "Attire of the Realm" tells us how the characters appearance came to be. "The Heat of Battle" takes up the most time and shows footage on-location while Ridley and crew shot the battles in England, Morroco and Malta. "Shadows and Dust" is a piece that tells how the filmmakers and actors dealt with the unfortunate death of Oliver Reed (Proximo in the film) and pays tribute to the man himself. "The Glory of Rome" displays how the CGI was used to create the Roman Empire and the documentary closes with "Echoes in Eternity" and talks about the films release and impact it has made.

Charles de Lauzirika and his boys produced what I think is one of the best documentaries on a DVD ever. Not one stone is left untouched and not once did I sit there thinking "boring". The entire 200-minutes had me glued to that set, only pausing when I needed to relief myself. Yeah, it runs over three-hours but I found more interest in this than I did say, 'The Two Towers': Extended Edition (and to most, that's a pretty bold statement.)

Disc Three
"Production Design Featurette and Gallery" serves first and shows the artwork for every location known in the film. "Storyboard Demonstrations, Comparisons and Gallery" shows the first storyboards and compares them with multi-angle shots of scenes in the film and "Ridleygrams: Ridley Scott's Own Sketches" show us Ridley's own storyboards. "Abandoned Scenes" and "Deleted Scenes" include an alterante opening titles and display the scenes that didn't even make it into the extended cut including the "Rhino Fight" and "Choose Your Weapon". "Visual Effects Comparison: Germania and Rome" gives us a very detailed look into the visual techniques used for the respective locations mentioned. Finally, the teaser and theatrical trailers as well as 20 TV spots round out this brilliant disc.

10 out of 10


An already tremendous film has now been improved greatly. As good as the theatrical edition of 'Gladiator' is, it can't hold a candle to the near perfect extended edition. The DVD itself may be the best availble on the market. The stellar audio and video presentations are nice to have along side two of the best set of extras ever encountered. Everything you could possibly wish to know about the production, filming, and design is packed on these discs. I had a spectacular time going through these DVDs and will definetly check out these extras for years to come. Easily, this is one of the best DVDs ever released.

The question however to owners of the previous two-disc set is should I get this edition? Two words: HELL YES! The extras were not repeated and just like with the 'Lord of the Rings' discs this is a wonderful compliment set. Out of the two though, I would urge you to this set as I found the extras and presentation of the film here to be superior (if by a nose hair) to the other stellar set.

DVD Overall Rating - 10 out of 10

mjeeves 08-26-05 07:33 AM

Thanks for the review. I agree with all your comments except the audio.

This is a GREAT set and the video is atleast as good as the original 2 disc set. The commentary is good and the documentary is very exhaustive and informative. The audio is by and large very good but there is without a doubt some distortion in a couple of scenes. I have listened over and over to the "Battle of Carthage" scene and I hear it every time. I first heard it when I wasn't even "trying" to hear it. On my reference system at normal listening levels it was very noticeable as a crackling in Russell Crowe's orders. It's a shame and it is annoying but I would NOT let it spoil your enjoyment of this great set. The extended cut makes an already great film... even greater!

Halofan2 08-26-05 03:25 PM

Thank ya for the comments and I do plan to post up more DVD reviews here.

That said, I did listen to that scene and I have to tell ya I don't notice it. Maybe I have a crummy set up but it sounds blissful to me.

Josh H 08-26-05 04:09 PM

I didn't notice any distortion either. But then again I'm far from an audiophile and have a $500 or so surround sound system. ;)

B5Erik 08-27-05 09:45 AM

It's funny, I remember when I first watched Gladiator it came across as Spartacus' lesser little brother. It seemed like there was something missing in the character development department.

I liked it, but after all the hype I was a little disappointed.

Now I want to give this extended version a shot. I've got a feeling that a lot of the character development "holes" that I noticed will be filled in by those added 17 minutes. If so, this could turn out to be a truly great movie. I'm looking forward to watching it.

dhmac 08-27-05 12:16 PM

Good review, Halofan2, although you should edit it and correct some misspellings in it (for instance, I noticed "villain" and "emperor" were misspelled, Crowe's first name has 2 'L's in it - "Russell" - and the Ancient Roman Emperor's name is spelled Marcus "Aurelius").

(BTW, if you're not sure how to spell a word, just use an online dictionary like Merriam-Webster to look it up. Simply type in something close, and it'll suggest some words you might be trying to look up. Remember that spelling is important as a Reviewer, because a number of readers will take a Reviewer's views less seriously if there are a lot of misspelled words in the review.)

Premise 08-27-05 02:53 PM

HTF says good movie,good picture,okay audio,great extras.

sniper007 08-27-05 03:08 PM

On disc two some think there is a easter egg is this true?

Halofan2 08-27-05 11:25 PM

Originally Posted by dhmac
Good review, Halofan2, although you should edit it and correct some misspellings in it (for instance, I noticed "villain" and "emperor" were misspelled, Crowe's first name has 2 'L's in it - "Russell" - and the Ancient Roman Emperor's name is spelled Marcus "Aurelius").

(BTW, if you're not sure how to spell a word, just use an online dictionary like Merriam-Webster to look it up. Simply type in something close, and it'll suggest some words you might be trying to look up. Remember that spelling is important as a Reviewer, because a number of readers will take a Reviewer's views less seriously if there are a lot of misspelled words in the review.)

Oh I will. I always forget to spell check my reviews because I'm so hyped to post them. Thank ya for the comments.

matrixrok9 08-27-05 11:40 PM

Good review! Thanks.

Robert 08-28-05 11:17 PM

Originally Posted by ceeece
Dang, I just sold my 2-disc in anticipation of the extended cut. Oh well. Thanks for the review.

:jawdrop: What the hell were you thinking?!

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