All reviews all the time! Home   Movies   Music   Video Games
4 DVDs 49 cents each!  |  Rent Dvds- Free Trial  |  Buy Movie Posters  

 Search Amazon
  Browse Movies 

 Browse by Genre 

 Other Movie/Video Review

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Spartacus

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 196 Minutes
Release Date: October 1960
Genres: Classic, Action, Drama

*Also starring: Jean Simmons, Tony Curtis, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Nina Foch, Herbert Lom, John Ireland, Charles McGraw

Review by Brian Koller
2½ stars out of 4

"Spartacus" is a historical drama that takes place in Italy in the first century B.C. Kirk Douglas stars as the title character, an escaped slave who leads an army of slaves against the Roman army. The lengthy, expensive epic was directed by Stanley Kubrick and adapted from the Howard Fast novel.

"Spartacus" is very loosely based on a true story. Douglas is trained to be a gladiator by Marcellus (Charles McGraw) at a facility owned by Batiatus (Peter Ustinov), where Douglas falls for servant Varinia (Jean Simmons). In due time, Douglas leads a revolt and takes the complex, then raids the countryside building an army of slaves, among them "singer of songs" Antoninus (Tony Curtis).

Back in Rome, the politicians and generals discuss how to deal with Spartacus. These include would-be dictator Crassus (Laurence Olivier) and generous schemer Gracchus (Charles Laughton).

"Spartacus" is a good movie. The cinematography is impressive, and the cast of extras rivals "The Ten Commandments" for sheer size. While far from Kubrick's best work, the film is well directed. Douglas, Olivier, Laughton and Ustinov are entertaining and well-cast. When grimacing Douglas dunks McGraw's head in a hot bowl of soup, you will be cheering for him.

But "Spartacus" is not as good as its reputation. First of all, the action sometimes drags, especially during the romantic scenes. While the Romans are given witty and sophisticated dialogue, the slaves aren't as fortunate. Stone-faced, sexually ambivalent Curtis has to deliver lines like "It could be argued so, master." Douglas and Simmons actually have the exchange:

Douglas: "Oh, Varinia, Don't make me weak". Simmons: "You're strong enough to be weak." (several melodramatic lines later) Douglas: "Oh, Varinia, Varinia, Varinia."

The Romans are portrayed as either brutally repressive or morally corrupt. The slaves, in contrast, are gentle and noble, with strong family units. The consistency of these opposing depictions reduces the credibility of the film. The plot also has some needless and unlikely plot twists towards the end, involving Simmons and Douglas.

Douglas produced "Spartacus", replacing Anthony Mann with Kubrick after they had an argument. Douglas and Kubrick had previously worked together on the superior "Paths of Glory". Kubrick disliked the script but was stuck with it. Much of the footage never saw the theatre, and wasn't restored until 1991. "Spartacus" won the Golden Globe award for Best Picture. Tellingly, the Academy didn't nominate "Spartacus" for Best Picture, but it did award Oscars for Cinematography (Russell Metty), Sets and Costumes, and Best Supporting Actor (Ustinov).

Copyright 1998 Brian Koller

More reviews:    Main  2  3   Next >>
buy dvd

buy video

read the reviews

In Affiliation with
Buy movie posters!

Home | Movies | Music | Video Games | Songs | | | Columbia House | Netflix

Copyright 1998-2002
Privacy Policy |  Advertising Info |  Contact Us