From The Published Archives: Gladiator (1992)

Time to dip into the vault once again for this next previously published piece.  Back in the spring of 1992, I was a student at Delta Secondary School.  In between hanging with friends, attending classes, studying, preparing for my campaign to become Student Council President and participating in numerous extracurricular activities, I was screening a lot of movies and writing reviews for the school’s student newsmagazine, OMNIA, and its supplementary newsletter, Om-Lette. 

In the April 1992 edition (the spring issue) of OMNIA, I had two reviews published.  Gladiator was one of them.  8 years before Russell Crowe would win an Academy Award in another film with that name, there was this film.  Released in March 1992, the film was, for me, a disappointment.

Despite a couple of strong supporting performances by Brian Dennehy and Robert Loggia, the film isn’t very surprising or effective.  This is one of my better reviews during this period that I like to call The Delta Years.

In the review, I single out Cuba Gooding Jr. who has frequently disappointed me over the years after starting off so strongly in Boyz N The Hood which remains his best movie.  (I’ve also liked him in Jerry Maguire which is probably his most famous movie and Men Of Honor, an overlooked gem from 2000.)  I don’t know if I can take any more stinkers like Pearl Harbor, Lightning Jack (which co-starred Paul Hogan), Snow Dogs and Boat Trip (easily his worst movie) but I hold out hope that Cuba will make better choices in the future.

There were numerous editing errors in the review that were not caught before publication.  Here are a couple of examples.  In the original published piece, the word “Tommy” was curiously misspelled “Tommmy” 3 times.  (Yes, I counted.)  Also, “$12,500” was accidentally read as “$1250” by mistake.  The number has been corrected for this reappearance of the article. 

One more thing.  About the last line in the review.  There was this guy in some of my classes named Ian Warrick.  Really funny guy who cracked me up constantly.  (It wasn’t always like that.  In Grade 9 Geography he threw fake sand at me and it took forever to get it all out of my hair.  After that, everything was fine.  Up until a few years ago, I frequently bumped into him and had a nice chat with him.  I can’t remember the last time I talked to him or saw him around.)  Whenever he voiced his disapproval about something, he would say it was “kibe”, a word I had never heard before.  He used it all the time and it was hilarious.  Soon, I found myself throwing it in at the end of some of my movie reviews.  (As an aside, “kibe” is an actual word but it doesn’t mean what Ian willed it to mean.  According to The Free Dictionary, it means “[a] chapped or inflamed area on the skin, especially on the heel, resulting from exposure to cold; an ulcerated chillblain.”  Interesting.)

GLADIATOR
**/****
Centre Mall, Showcase.
Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Robert Loggia, Brian Dennehy and James Marshall.
Adult Accompaniment.
Opened Friday, March 6th, 1992.
 
Cuba Gooding Jr. is one of the best new actors to hit Hollywood in the past couple of years.  His first performance in Oscar nominee John Singleton’s excellent movie, Boyz N The Hood, proved to be something special.  Now, he’s starring in an average action flick entitled “Gladiator” in which Gooding plays Lincoln, a fighter surviving to feed his teen wife and “Black Beauty” (his nickname for his little baby).  The main plot surrounds Tommy Riley (an uninspiring performance by James Marshall of Twin Peaks), a tough kid who is new to Southside Chicago and is constantly being bothered by a black gang of illegal boxers.  Not only does Tommy have people after him because he’s new, his father (a cameo role by John Heard of Home Alone, Awakenings and Deceived) forgot to pay $12,500 in gambling debts.  The only way Tommy can pay back the money is if he fights in an illegal boxing federation owned by Horn (a great performance by Brian Dennehy of FX 2 fame).  Horn tells Tommy that his dad owes over $10,000 in gambling debts and Tommy must fight in order to be square with Horn, who now owns the debts.  Tommy only has five friends in Chicago.  They are Lincoln, his girlfriend, his cornerman, a Cuban fighter, and his father.  Another major character in the movie is Peppy Jack (a brilliant performance by Robert Loggia of Necessary Roughness fame).  He’s a scouting agent and a promoter who spots Tommy and gets him interested fairly quickly in the world of boxing.  Despite some great acting, James Marshall is too stoney as Tommy and the script seems to be predictable in certain spots.  All in all, Gladiator is not the great action flick it bills itself to be!  Until next time, this is Dennis Earl, the movie critic for OMNIA/OM-LETTE, saying later and I hope your next movie isn’t kibe.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, July 2, 2006
5:19 p.m.

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Published in: on July 2, 2006 at 5:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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