For those who haven't seen it I don't want to give away the entire plot. Briefly, Maximus, the virtuous and victorious commander of the Roman army over the Visigoths, is asked by the dying Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, to become the protectorate of Rome upon his death and return the rule of law to the Senate, making Rome once again a Republic. Aurelius's evil and ambitious son, Commodus - fully expecting to made emperor himself - will have none of it, striking out against his father and destroying Maximus. Maximus becomes a slave, then a gladiator, eventually finding himself fighting in the Roman Coliseum in front of his nemesis, Commodus.
The story has somewhat of classic plot line - similar in some ways to the Tale of Monte Cristo as Maximus seeks revenge, but more than revenge, he seeks to carry out the wishes of a dying emperor and a higher cause. The movie also paints Maximus as the classic Republican citizen, who wants nothing more after securing victory for Rome than to go home to his family and farm. Unfortunately, events conspire against him as he forced to make yet another sacrifice for this country. Even at the bitter end he seeks to serve Rome.
On a side note, unlike others I didn't find the special features that interesting. They were pretty typical "The Making Of" documentaries. And the historical piece was not that new, to me at least.
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