Gladiator UHD Review

Likely the best version we're ever going to get 4.5 Stars

The third disc format may be the charm for Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, finally looking and sounding better than ever with minimal digital manipulation on 4K UHD Blu-ray.

Gladiator (2000)
Released: 05 May 2000
Rated: R
Runtime: 155 min
Director: Ridley Scott
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed
Writer(s): David Franzoni (story), David Franzoni (screenplay), John Logan (screenplay), William Nicholson (screenplay)
Plot: When a Roman General is betrayed, and his family murdered by an emperor's corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.
IMDB rating: 8.5
MetaScore: 67

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: DTS:X, DTS Headphone, English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 35 Min. Theatrical, 2 Hr. 51 Min. Unrated Extended Edition
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Case Type: 3-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 05/15/2018
MSRP: $31.99

The Production: 4/5

Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Russell Crowe), Ridley Scott’s Gladiator tells the epic story of a Roman General Maximus, who has been chosen by Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), after a triumphant battle finally defeating Germania, to take the throne over the rightful heir Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) for the betterment of the Empire. Marcus knows that his son is not fit to rule, but Commodus expects to be named the successor, and in a fit of jealousy and rage, kills his father and frames Maximus, sentenced for execution along with his family. Maximus escapes badly wounded, unable to reach his family in time to save them, and is sold into slavery to become a Gladiator for Proximo (Oliver Reed). In an attempt to be embraced by the public, Commodus reopens the Coliseum to Gladiatorial battles to the death in honor of his late father, even though it was Marcus who outlawed the games and freed many of the Gladiators, including Proximo. When Proximo learns of the new games as a way to become more profitable from his slave warriors, he brings them to Rome, not knowing (until much later) that Maximus was a former General ordered for execution by the new Emperor. Much to everyone’s surprise, Maximus becomes something of a hero to the crowds, proving more popular than Commodus, which does not go over well with the Emperor. While Commodus plots to have Maximus die in the ring, Maximus plots his escape with Senator Gracchus (Derek Jacobi) and Commodus’ sister Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), whom he had an earlier love affair with, and eventually overthrow Commodus and return Rome to the public.

Ridley Scott has directed many epic historical dramas, getting his start with 1977’s The Duelists, continuing with 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven, and Exodus: Gods and Kings, his most successful (both critically and commercially) being Gladiator. Russell Crowe quite deservedly won Best Actor for his portrayal as Maximus, a man stripped of everything but still manages to come out on top, victorious even in death. Oliver Reed gives perhaps his best (and final) performance as Proximo, a conflicted man profiting from the very same exploitation that held him back as a much younger man. The action sequences are quite brutal (even more so in the Extended version), but what really dates the film technologically are the now antiquated digital mattes that are now even more evident in this higher resolution transfer.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The previous Paramount Sapphire Series Blu-ray release (included in this set) had some major issues with edge enhancement and DNR, a highly digitally manipulated transfer that looked more like video than film. I’m happy to report that this new 4K 2160p transfer, which includes both Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range, is very film-like in its appearance. At first glance, one may think the UHD version’s colors are muted when compared to the previous Blu-ray, and technically that is true, but I firmly believe that the Blu-ray’s colors are artificially heightened while the UHD is closer to the original 35mm film prints. Fine detail is vastly improved, with more noticeable textures in fabrics, stone floors and walls, and facial expressions and features. Contrast is a major leap above the Blu-ray too, with deeper blacks retaining shadow details (that were often lost in the previous transfer) and bright whites that never bloom. The cuts between the Extended and Theatrical versions are also now fairly seamless. The only unfortunate thing about this new transfer is, because of the added clarity and higher resolution, many of the now-dated CGI effects are much more obvious, due more to the source material than the transfer itself.

Audio: 5/5

Gladiator receives an upgraded DTS: X track that is much more expansive than the DTS-HD Master Audio track found on the Blu-ray. Many may forget, but the original DVD release of the film included an exceptional DTS: ES 6.1 surround track, so it is nice the see this upgrade that includes not only additional rear surround channels, but heights as well. I’m not going to say there are any discrete and obvious uses of the height speakers, but objects are more precisely placed within the environment and the track provides a much more immersive experience with improved LFE as well, while dialogue remains clear throughout. Also included is an immersive DTS Headphone: X stereo track that provides a fairly good simulated surround presence when using a quality pair of headphones.

Special Features: 4.5/5

The UHD disc contains both the Theatrical and Extended cuts of the film, plus audio commentaries and Ridley Scott’s introduction. All of the other special features (which are quite exhaustive) can be found on the Blu-ray discs.

Audio Commentary with director Ridley Scott, editor Pietro Scalia, and cinematographer John Matthieson: This is the commentary track featured on the original DVD release from 2000, and can be selected from the Audio Settings menu on the UHD disc after selecting the Theatrical Edition of the film.

Audio Commentary with director Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe: This is the commentary track that appeared on the 3-disc DVD re-release in 2005, and can be selected from the Audio Settings menu on the UHD disc after selecting the Extended Edition of the film.

Introduction to the Extended Edition by Ridley Scott (upscaled 2160p; 0:31): Scott gives a half-hearted intro to the extended edition, with scenes “that might be worth seeing.”

The Scrolls of Knowledge: A subtitle and PIP trivia track available on both versions of the film on Blu-ray Disc One.

Visions from Elysium: Topic Portal (480i): Eleven pages of brief video clips covering the entire spectrum of the movie Gladiator. Some of this is duplicated in the featurettes and categories listed below.

Strength and Honor: Creating the World of Gladiator (480i; 3:16:50): Charles de Lauzirika’s documentary on the making of the film.

Image and Design: A look at the Production Design, Storyboarding, Costume Design, and Weapons Primer thru the use of still galleries and interviews.

Abandoned Sequences and Deleted Scenes (480i): Alternate Title Design, Blood Vision, Rhino Fight, Choose Your Weapon, and Treasure Chest.

The Aurelian Archives: Many of the Extras ported from the original 2000 DVD release. The Making of Gladiator (480i; 25:03), Gladiator Games: The Roman Bloodsport (480i; 50:04); Hans Zimmer: Scoring Gladiator (480i; 20:42), An Evening with Russell Crowe (480i; 27:15), Maximus Uncut: Between Takes with Russell Crowe (480i; 8:00), My Gladiator Journal by Spencer Treat Clark text slide show (1080p), VFX Explorations: Germania & Rome (480i; 23:50), Theatrical Teaser (1080p; 1:15), Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 1:35), and TV Spots (480i; 8:55).

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem digital copies thru UltraViolet and iTunes.

Overall: 4.5/5

Gladiator finally arrives on home video looking and sounding better than ever, porting over all of the special features from previous releases.

Published by

Todd Erwin

editor,member

20 Comments

  1. Vincent_P

    I thought that the Blu-ray included with this set was the later remastered edition, not the first one that was an edge-enhanced mess?

    Vincent

    The 4K does include the corrected Blu-ray. Definitely not the original BD…

  2. Vincent_P

    I thought that the Blu-ray included with this set was the later remastered edition, not the first one that was an edge-enhanced mess?

    Vincent

    First and foremost, this is a review of the 4K UHD Blu-ray. Secondly, the "corrected" Blu-ray included in this set still has issues and looks more like video than film.

  3. Todd Erwin

    Really? I thought you were boycotting Mel Gibson movies.

    I'm against hiring for NEW Mel movies. You can't bury the past. You can prevent him from profiting in the future.

    Same thing with SOTS and other movies where cultures and tradition change. Understand they were products of their time. Don't make the same mistakes again today tho.

  4. Todd Erwin

    Really? I thought you were boycotting Mel Gibson movies.

    I'm against hiring for NEW Mel movies. You can't bury the past. You can prevent him from profiting in the future.

    Same thing with SOTS and other movies where cultures and tradition change. Understand they were products of their time. Don't make the same mistakes again today tho.

  5. Todd Erwin

    First and foremost, this is a review of the 4K UHD Blu-ray. Secondly, the "corrected" Blu-ray included in this set still has issues and looks more like video than film.

    Well, excuse me. I don't think my post was out of order or deserving of this snarky response. The original Blu-ray was known for heavy edge-enhancement and looking extremely digital, whereas the re-release didn't suffer from those issues. Your review indicated that the Blu-ray included in this set is the original Blu-ray and not the reissued version.

    Vincent

  6. Vincent_P

    Well, excuse me. I don't think my post was out of order or deserving of this snarky response. The original Blu-ray was known for heavy edge-enhancement and looking extremely digital, whereas the re-release didn't suffer from those issues. Your review indicated that the Blu-ray included in this set is the original Blu-ray and not the reissued version.

    Vincent

    Sorry if that came off snarky. I meant to add a second quoted post to my response.

  7. Sam Posten

    I'm against hiring for NEW Mel movies. You can't bury the past. You can prevent him from profiting in the future.

    Same thing with SOTS and other movies where cultures and tradition change. Understand they were products of their time. Don't make the same mistakes again today tho.

    You misspelled "HOTS"! 😀

    [​IMG]

  8. Sam Posten

    I'm against hiring for NEW Mel movies. You can't bury the past. You can prevent him from profiting in the future.

    Same thing with SOTS and other movies where cultures and tradition change. Understand they were products of their time. Don't make the same mistakes again today tho.

    I appreciate your sentiment Sam, but don't quite follow the logic. What of the dirty old men of cinema, all of whose – or nearly all – work is in the past? Should Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Dustin Hoffman, et al, be let off the hook? Regardless, when you buy a Mel Gibson movie, whether old or new, he still reaps the profits from it.

    Note that I'm not passing judgement on which individuals anyone should choose to boycott or not; you just had me puzzled, that's all.

    PS: what's SOTS? For that matter, what's HOTS?!

  9. Brent Reid

    Note that I'm not passing judgement on which individuals anyone should choose to boycott or not; you just had me puzzled, that's all.

    I can't do anything about the sunk costs of those creations, and have formed impressions good and bad of them already. I can separate the art from the accused. Those creations are collaborations of hundreds or thousands of people, who should not be penalized because of the bad actions of a person they likely had no reason to suspect at the time of creation.

    But I am wholly opposed to wiping Mel's, Bill's and Harvey's slate clean and encouraging collaboration with them on future projects.

    It may not be what others would choose, but that is my code currently at least!

  10. Got this UHD today and am really impressed. The enhanced UHD color-space and HDR make a *HUGE* difference with GLADIATOR beyond the increased resolution. I don't know if I've seen another "vintage" film-based production that has had this much of an improvement in those areas compared to this.

    Vincent

  11. Vincent_P

    Got this UHD today and am really impressed. The enhanced UHD color-space and HDR make a *HUGE* difference with GLADIATOR beyond the increased resolution. I don't know if I've seen another "vintage" film-based production that has had this much of an improvement in those areas compared to this.

    Vincent

    Agree. As I mentioned in another thread, the Blu-ray's colors look kind of mushy and wan compared to the UHD's…

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