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Set in Roman times, a banished Roman General fights his way back as a gladiator. The only power stronger than the Emperor is the greatest hero in all of the Empire.
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As Ridley Scott proclaims at the top of the exhaustive three-disc set, the new cut of the film is not the director's cut--that was in the theaters. This new cut expands the running time by 15 minutes, adding a few talky scenes and extensions of others. We have richer character moments though most involving Commodus and Lucilla. The massive 200-minute documentary takes a long look at the making of the film. It's not filled with lots of new, flashy fluff; it digs into the heart of producing a movie: How do you re-create the Colosseum? How do you costume and choreograph hundreds of extras for a battle? How do you work when the unfinished script is "in play?" How can you finish a film when a key actor dies? Some of the comments are refreshing tart and honest. The third disc is even more in-depth with several key behind-the-scenes talents talking at length about their work (including a storyboard artist). This is a set for the movie-production buff and even the most apparent glitzy extra--a new commentary trick from Scott and Russell Crowe--is uneventful. Note: both cuts of the movie are on the first disc, but the fantastic DTS track from the first release is sacrificed. The reasons are buried at the end of the excellent trivia track for those interested. --Doug Thomas
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