Gladiator and its other best picture winning counterpart, Ben-Hur, really stand as the very best examples the sword and sandals genre has to offer. If these films don't work, then none of them do quite honestly. I've come around wholly to the film in its specifically grand scale story of good vs evil through the story of one man who must rise above the arena to take down his enemy who naturally is the emperor of all of Rome. Is the film broad in terms of its style? Most definitely but I think it does work in that style. The action scenes are memorably brought to life by Ridley Scott, but there is still enough of a human element to keep altogether with of course the revenge plot and my favorite side element involving Maximus's former gladiator owner Proximo (Oliver Reed) though that story is unfortunately cut short. I must admit I was wrong to ever have hand waved Crowe's performance in this film. No one else could have played the part other than him, and the next film on this list will help me explain why. Do I think this a perfect film? No of course not. I still can't quite support Joaquin Phoenix's villainous turn here. It is a terrific example though of a genre that might be one of the hardest to pull off well.