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Showing posts from August, 2015

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #151: Gladiator

The words “a Ridley Scott film” can mean a lot of things: a science-fiction film, a thriller, or a straight-up drama. One genre in which he seems to be quite at ease is the swords and sandals epic, and his most successful entry in that genre has been his Oscar-winning Gladiator (2000) with his frequent collaborator Russell Crowe. The story is filled with representations of corruption in politics, how entertainment can be used to distract or win the masses, but mostly it is remembered for the fights on the sand of the arena. This is best encompassed by the hero’s signature scream to the audience: “Are you not entertained?”
Most people watching this movie for the first time might probably link it to other similar epics, but the first thing that popped into my mind and the mind of my parents and brother when we first watched it was, “this sounds an awful lot like the French comic book Astérix.” The opening describes how at this point in history the Roman Empire has vanquished all of its e…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #156: Saving Private Ryan

War movies make for great entertainment, but war in real life is horrible. Other than maybe David Ayer’s Fury, no movie proves this point better than Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998), which portrayed the horror of World War II so accurately veterans walked out of the theatres because they felt it was too realistic. Prior to this movie Hollywood had made tales of that war filled heroism, humour, and a moderate level of violence. Spielberg’s film may somewhat overdo it with the American heroism, but it certainly doesn’t avoid the violence, and the laughs are very rare.
Spielberg has often been the king of summer movies, and Saving Private Ryan was another major hit for him in the summer of 1998. I went to see it in theatres with my parents during a vacation in Quebec City even though this was clearly not a family movie. I believe I was around 12 years old at the time, so there are plenty of images that became seared in my brain, particularly the early carnage of Omaha Beach.…