Well, in case you haven't been reading the Talk Back posts in the "San Francisco Bound" story, I thought I'd share some of the reviews of the mystery film that Harry and Moriarty presented at the METREON last night. (Sorry I didn't get this posted earlier, but I've been having technical difficulties.)
If any of you that were in attendance have longer, full reviews (no spoilers, please), e-mail them to me and Harry, and we'll add them over the course of the weekend. Otherwise, feel free to post mini-reviews and responses below in Talk Back.
The first review from the event was posted last night at 10:25 PST by Scorpio:
It was Gladiator, and IT ROCKED!
Damn, I wish I *had* taken the camcorder, because I cannot wait to see this again!! Just kidding about the camcorder. Anyway, THIS MAY VERY WELL BE *THE* MOVIE OF THE YEAR! I don't even know where to start, and I guess I don't really need to. Others have reviewed it already, and more will pour in over the next few hours. But I have to say this was Ridley Scott's finest moment. Russell Crowe, you're a genius. Joaquin Phoenix, so restrained, so perfectly... flawed. Oliver Reed, what a way to go out. Forget all of this summer's other movies... they'll be panty-waist compared to this epic. The battles, the Colliseum, the editing... whoah. I just wish this were the final print, the one that will be released. But I'm sure the MPAA will make sure that doesn't happen. THANK YOU HARRY! WHAT AN EVENING!
The following is more than just a review, it's an adventure! HiroProtagonist allegedly snuck in last night. Here's his story (with paragraph breaks and spelling corrections added for your reading pleasure):
I snuck in to GLADIATOR!!!
I'm just back from the sneak preview. I've been troubled since Tuesday, when I found out too late about the screening. I wrote each person who mentioned they might have an extra ticket on this sight. No luck. I checked Ebay. No luck. I wrote Harry and begged for a ticket. Even Harry couldn't help me. I had to take matters into my own hands.
I showed up 45 minutes early for the 7 pm screening at the gargantuan 15-theater Metreon. There was already a line of people standing two-by-two running the length of the building, looking more like they were about to board Noah's Ark than waiting to enter for the screening of the still unknown movie. I stressed. I bought a ticket for a 7:10 showing of Scream 3 - a bad movie I'd already seen, but the only one with a similar start-time.
As I got in line, another person by themselves fell in line behind me. Hopeful that he had an extra ticket, I struck up a conversation. I explained he'd gotten the ticket from a friend and the friend had decided not to come BUT KEPT THE EXTRA TICKET!! I was out of luck, but at least if I got in I wouldn't be stealing a seat from someone who had been on time. Then the guy showed me his ticket - it looked NOTHING like mine - it was plastic, in the shape of a credit card, with aint-it-cool-news printed across the back. My Scream 3 ticket looked nothing like it. I was doomed.
I explained my predicament to my linemate and told him of my intentions. I asked him how his friend had lucked into the ticket (the guy had never heard of AICN). I learned his friend worked for the Theater and my linemate worked downstairs for Metreon's affiliated mall. He worked in loss prevention - security. But he didn't bust me - he didn't think I'd get in, but he said it wasn't his beef. My first lucky break.
They let people into the theater 50 at a time - I was in the fourth wave. First they checked tickets at the main gate - my Scream # pass got me through. But I knew I was done as soon as I went around the corner - two more people checking for the special tickets at the entrance to theater 11. I walked up and tried to play dumb - the attendant explained exactly how to get to theater 4 to see Scream. I looked at the guy, prayed for my Fight Club Karma to carry me through and mumbled "c'mon man - there's an extra seat - I know it!"
He smiled and let me through. I walked down the hallway, into the light, and there was Harry, smiling. I'd made it. The theater was a small, steep stadium - Harry's seat was staked out about seven rows back, dead center four rows up from ground level. I found a lone seat 5 rows directly behind him. He chatted with about 10 people that stood by the right wall with bemused smiles on their faces - they KNEW.
After a healthy wait, Harry paced to a microphone on the right side of the screen and talked for a minute about how nice it was to be there. He said if we had anyone to thank it was Moriarity for working so hard to get this whole thing put together. Then "And blame Moriarity if the movie's no good because he's seen it, and he says it's the best RIDLEY SCOTT movie ever made."
The audience erupted with applause and sideways comments to friends - "GLADIATOR!" We were geeky enought to know. Harry sat and the movie began.
The movie - Ridley Scott is a God. Russell Crowe is a BadAss God. If you have any doubt now, this movie will erase it. If you've seen the preview, you can pretty much guess the movie is divided into three parts - The Maximus(Crowe)-led battle in Germany, Maximus' fall from favor and rise through the Gladiator ranks, and his return to Rome to face those who betrayed him.
The battle with the Germans is the single greatest battle sequence I've ever seen. Scott is a master of focusing on one character while giving a sense of the epic scale of a Roman attack with a mix of wide camera shots and racing shots keeping pace with charging horses. He gets a little heavy handed with an Oliver Stone-ish strobe effect when focusing on Maximus, but it just reminded me of Lucas' [I think he means Spielberg's. - Robo] Normandy battle scene and its focus on Tom Hanks - it's literally awesome.
Maximus' subsequent fall on hard times is done well - especially the relationship between the Ruling Emperor Ceasar (Richard Harris) and his son Commodus, but it doesn't compare with the second half of the second act - Maximus as gladiator.
There is a shot as Maximus enters his first area that is pure Scott - Crowe walks under a blood red knitted awning, moving aside pieces of fabric - the light and the sensuousness of the shot teleported me to Blade Runner, as Harrison Ford walks through a street market in the same way. It oozes badassness.
The fights and gore are worthy of being mentioned alongside Braveheart. When the action moves to Rome, the scale turns epic and raw for Coliseum battles and intimate and polished for palace intrigue. The emotional sequences lack heart, but this is not so much a story about inner turmoil as one man's journey through the most interesting parts of the Roman Empire. The fights are on a grander scale then the second act and don't disappoint - I found myself totally immersed and excited - only a few inevitable wide CGI shots of ancient Rome and the Coliseum momentarily interrupted my suspended disbelief.
You will see this movie. It will take you to ancient Rome. You will worship Maximus along with the masses. It's inevitable. I loved it.
Afterward, Harry got up front again and talked for a while about the whole process of bringing it to San Francisco. Basically, the people at Metreon are cool enough to want him and his fans there and the Gladiator folks were proud enough to subject the flick to AICN scrutiny. Harry answered questions - The TV show is still in the works, Harry wants it to be of a quality that can compare with the website before he commits. Harry says the site is going to change dramatically for the better over the next year, with more sound and video, though stay text-centered. And Harry will be on the Radio - as in have his own show!
Since this was a test screening of sorts, I want to give my one minor criticism for the editors - there's a scene between Commodus and his sister in the beginning that takes place in a carriage. During the dialogue, Commodus moves from his bed to his sisters. But he appears to teleport - there's no shot of him moving across the carriage! The only flaw, other than the CGI shots, I found in the whole movie - this film is 9.5 out of 10.
And here's a short review from elgallo, who had an interesting close encounter at the Metreon...
G L A D I A T O R ! ! ! ! !
That's what it was as you already know (I would have been the first to post it, but it took 30 minutes to get my talkback password... pacbell.net sucks!!!) It was incredible. Some of the most gruesome, bloody, graphic images I've ever seen. As Harry said, some things that probably won't be seen again until the DVD release. Lucky for me, I was there tonight. What a night it was!!! Thank you Harry... And that's not the half of it. It was just a spectacular night and it would have been even if the film didn't completely rock! But it wasn't because I got to see Harry & company in person (although that was pretty cool). And it wasn't the honor of seeing a highly anticipated months before anyone else well. Actually, the best part of the night was waiting in line for popcorn and coke. Sounds strange to you, doesn't it? But then again, you weren't standing right behind GEORGE LUCAS as he bought his popcorn and M&Ms. That's right, the man, the myth, the midget (I never realized how short he was), was right in front of me. And thank god for the slow, inefficient service of the Metreon, which allowed me to bask in his glow and suck up some of his energy for a good ten or fifteen minutes... Anyway, thank you, Harry for the wonderful evening. Come to San Fran anytime.
Hmmm... Intriguing. Here's a somewhat less exuberant response to the film, along with independent corroboration of the aforementioned close encounter, from Justin Sane:
Gladiator & George Lucas
Thanks a bunch, Harry, for the cool screening. I didn't think Gladiator was mega-cool, but it was certainly a lot of fun (maybe it's because I got there about ten minutes before the movie started and had to sit near the front and stare up at the screen). Two of the battle sequences came off best- the beginning one and the tiger battle. To add to the excitement of the evening whilst I was on my way to the bathroom I saw a guy with a pompadour-style haircut and then heard him speak the words "I think everyone's going to the SAME theater" while looking at people walking towards theater 11. I took a closer look and it was none other than George Lucas and family. I was hoping he was attending the Gladiator screening, but as far as I know he didn't. Ah well, it was still fun to see him on the way to take a pee.
So many obvious jokes come to mind, but I'll let you come up with your own. Anyway, here's another review, this one from Bluberry Johnson. (Though it's worth noting that we received separate reports that the cut that screened last night has indeed already been approved by the MPAA, and rated R.)
Oh Thank You Mr. Knowles...ever so much
Let me start off this morning by giving you guys reason to hate us and Harry - (clears throat) - ahem - GLADIATOR KICKS SERIOUS ASS!!! Screw Spartacus - Ben Hur was a fairy - William Wallace can bugger off - Russell Crowe is the friggin man! Russell Crowe pretty much makes you feel emasculated because there's no friggin way you'll ever be as manly as his Gladiator Maximus' character. I'll be the first to point out some flaws with the movie and in overall texture, I feel Braveheart was a superior film - but not by much. There was not a single bad performance in this film - especially Russell Crowe - the action sequences were absolutely friggin jaw droppingly fragile mind blowingly good. I can't wait for you guys to see this in May - although the cut we saw was not tampered with by the MPAA so you guys might see less gore.
The costume and weaponry were gorgeous and having visited Rome in Europe I can tell you that the CGI rendered Rome almost brought a tear to my eye. I always felt CGI was best when it brought past places to life. To see the Coliseum, even a CGI rendered one was just absolutely breathtaking. I think the best line describing how I felt when I saw this scene was, "I would never have believed men could build such things." It was said by that lead actor in Amistad - who was good too. This is Ridley Scott's best work since Blade Runner - it's not better then Blade Runner for obvious reasons but just like he did with Blade Runner and Alien with SciFi - he just made an epochal (is that a word?) film in the Epic Action/Period Action genre. God that was a good film. Pretty much the year 2000 millennium of cinema starts with this film. And by the by...the audience at the Metreon was great...
And, well, I can't help myself... How could I possibly NOT reprint the following post from zinger?
A GREAT POWER IS UNLEASHED
GREAT evening to have you all as guests of San Francisco, The Metreon, and Sony Loews Metreon Theatres. Everybody on AICN this may quite possibly have been a landmark event with respect to studios knowing who their target markets are and how to reach them. Does that constitute some breach of objectivity or journalistic ethics by Harry? Not even close. Studios know this site, they know the timber of dialogue, have bent over to meet Harry, include him in early production peeks. He has a loyal, movie savvy readers base that transcends singular stereotyping. That said, no guarantees with this group. But DreamWorks took a well thought out opportunity presented to them by a progressive location based entertainment center and a passionate about film web site and hit marketing pay dirt.
The on-line buzz about Gladiator IMHO a visceral, emotional, thrill epic with amazing production values and so far not alluded to a soul stirring film score will continue to swell until its early May opening. This head of steam most studio suits would sell their mothers for. Harry and AICN readers you just get ready. Studios want you and your readiness to support their films. Now that the waters have been tested it would not surprise me if a studio next time does 3 cities simultaneously. This is not unlike tapping into MOVIELINE subscribers or PREMIERE magazine's advance screenings. And what are all of us to think? Ah, show them the economic power of this collective website and the possibilities are endless. Could casting approvals be too far off? Well, suffice to say Ethan Hawke would never play Spidey, coin toss about Leo as DVJr., and Ahnuld would never ever get cast for anything more until he gets off his ass and makes The Crusades or better, Conan: The Chosen co-starring Ed Norton and directed by David Fincher... script by Moriarty and score assembled by Alexandra Dupont and...!