Moving Pictures
May 04, 2009, 08:53AM

The Aborted Sequel to Gladiator

Featuring "the reincarnation of Maximus as the eternal warrior, the betrayal of Hephaestus, the sickness unto death of the Roman gods, the martyrdoms of St. Irenaeus of Lyon and St. Cassian of Imola, the persecution of Emperor Declus, the Crusades, and the Vietnam War." Oh, yeah, and it ends in the men's bathroom at the Pentagon.

What works:
After being prepared to write this off as some sort of misguided oddity, I’m surprised to say this is an absolutely exceptional script.Once the initial “what the f**k am I reading?!” wore off, I really came to savor everything about it. Cave’s writing, the storyline, the dialogue…it’s Grade-A material through and through.
While there are DEEP, CRITICAL flaws with this as a sequel, nearly every problem I have with the story could be corrected by spinning it off as something stand-alone.
- Despite a sense that Maximus’ journey in this film repeats many of the same beats of the original: he’s still written to perfection. It’s very easy to imagine Crowe scoring another Oscar with what Cave gave him to work with.
- The idea of a damned Maximus paying for his transgressions against the Gods by serving as an eternal warrior is fantastic stuff. The final scene is particularly heartbreaking. It also opens things up for more sequels (kidding).
- From Cave’s descriptions of the vast netherworld to a highly-ambitious, crocodile-packed battle sequence: Ridley Scott would have had a blast shooting this.


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