The Really Cool Stuff
The coolest part of this set is the extensive amount of good supplemental material, which fills an entire second disc!
Menu Screen Presentation:
All user interfaces for this DVD set are well designed and easy to navigate. Disc I features an excellent intro that evokes the epic nature of the film, and an animated background featuring it's primary characters. The scene-index menu includes scenes in full motion. All menu screens feature Hans Zimmer's score from the movie. Disc II includes subtle background animation for main-menus, and sub-menus that feature stills from the film. Again, all screens are accompanied by Zimmer's grand score. A very classy overall presentation.
Eleven complete scenes, ranging in length from thirty seconds to five minutes, are featured. All deleted scenes are worth watching, give more insight into the characters and story, and can be viewed with or without commentary by director Ridley Scott. Scott's commentaries include his thoughts about each scene, and his reasons for deleting them from the film.
Also included, under the heading "Treasure Chest", is a very unique eight minute montage of unused footage, edited together and backed by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard's fantastic score. I like to call it "GTV - Gladiator Music Television".
The menu for accessing the deleted scenes is also very original and user-friendly. It's heading is "From The Cutting Room Floor", and it lists the name of each scene. When a particular scene is highlighted, a still from that scene appears to the right, along with a short description. Once a scene is chosen, the option to see it with or without commentary is offered. This is, to date, the best 'deleted scenes' presentation I've seen included with a DVD.
I - The Making of Gladiator
This is a half-hour 'behind the scenes' program. It IS NOT one of
those crappy featurettes that are just commercials disguised as
'making of' films. This one actually has a lot of great information
about the film, short interviews with all the principle actors and
filmmakers, and very little (less than three minutes) of footage
from the completed movie. Very well done!
II - Gladiator Games - Roman Bloodsport
An hour-long program about the deadly ancient Roman games
that is very informative and promotes the movie, as well.
Included for historical reference, this documentary puts much of
the film's barbaric action into realistic perspective. Hopefully,
more DVD's will be released with features like this! Awesome!
III - Hans Zimmer: Composing Gladiator
This is a twenty minute interview with Hans Zimmer, talking about
the music he scored for Gladiator. Excellent insight into the film-
score composing process. Includes scenes from the film, with
commentary by Zimmer. This is another important, but often-
neglected, aspect of moviemaking that this DVD fittingly provides.
IV - My Gladiator Journal
Yet another unique feature, this is a written account of over two
months in the making of Gladiator, by actor Spencer Treat Clark,
who plays Lucius, grandson to Marcus Arelius. Very interesting
and entertaining, this journal gives a kid's perspective on movie-
making and also includes many behind-the-scenes photos. I
thought it was good enough to be included in the 'documentaries'
section of my review.
Commentary is provided by director Ridley Scott, director of photography John Mathieson, and editor Pietro Scalia. It's always great when the DVD commentary track features more than just one of the filmmakers. There are very few pauses in conversation, and, unlike most commentary tracks, it never seems as though the filmmakers are absently searching for things to say about the film. In addition, this commentary track has it's own index page, titled not by scene, but by commentary topic! Very informative and entertaining content.
Innovative presentation of storyboard sequences, which allows you to flip through every one of them or skip ahead to key scenes in the film. Nicely designed. Also includes 'deleted scenes' storyboards. The 'key scene' storyboard access is a great feature that most other DVD's lack!
I ) Under 'deleted storyboards', choose the "Rhino Fight" scene. The first storyboard page will show a rhinoceros in the center frame. Press 'up' to highlight the rhino, then 'enter' or 'ok' to see early CGI test footage!
II ) Under 'trailers and t.v. spots', pressing the left arrow on the DVD remote highlights a portion of Richard Harris' shield. Pressing 'enter' on the highlighted plate plays the Gladiator inspired Chicken Run trailer!
The Usual Stuff
Sound and Image Quality:
Gladiator actually looks and sounds better than it did in theatres! The only drawback is that some of the computer generated backgrounds, those of Rome in particular, look a bit less realistic. (too clean and crisp)
Good selection of color stills, including many scenes from the movie, as well as behind-the-scenes photographs of the cast and crew. Stills are categorized for easy access, with an option to flip through the entire set.
Trailers & TV Spots:
Includes original teaser trailer and standard release trailer. Also included are four television commercial spots. It's interesting to compare the approaches taken for each spot, as they are each designed to appeal to a different moviegoing audience!
Cast & Crew:
Better-than-average biographies of the principle actors and filmmakers, including film career highlight lists for each.
Short but informative text concerning the making of the film.
An English subtitle option is provided for the hearing impaired.