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CinemaDome: Braveheart vs Gladiator

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14 Dec 2016 14:43 #240593 by Msample

Vlad wrote: The last time I watched it was about 5 years ago (I basically re-winded between the battle scenes) and they looked ridiculously small-scale compared to LOTR and Kingdom of Heaven. So I don't think it could stand up to the Battle of Bastards.


One reason they were small scale was that all the people you see on screen were real people. LotR was the first use of the software known as MASSIVE that allowed CGI figures to act with an independent AI rather than be programmed. After LotR it became pretty common throughout the industry - see for instance the final battle of THE LAST SAMURAI where its pretty obvious there are only about 30 guys in real life around Tom Cruise vs the thousands you see on screen. BRAVEHEART's background extras were all real.
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14 Dec 2016 14:56 #240596 by Gregarius
And don't forget digital compositing, which Lucas had been working on for years. That's where you film the same 10 guys running around and then use the computer to put them all in the screen at the same time. They used that a lot in Battle of the Bastards as well.

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14 Dec 2016 16:39 #240604 by Shellhead

Gregarius wrote: And don't forget digital compositing, which Lucas had been working on for years. That's where you film the same 10 guys running around and then use the computer to put them all in the screen at the same time. They used that a lot in Battle of the Bastards as well.


At first glance, I misread this as "digital composting," which would certainly explain the Star Wars prequels.
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14 Dec 2016 16:41 #240605 by Hex Sinister
I'll never understand the mass appeal of that soggiest of tampons known as Braveheart. It is one of my most hated movies. Mel Gibson died after filming Thunderdome and I'll remember him for those three films. What alien lifeform possessed his body after that I cannot say.

Vote: Gladiator

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14 Dec 2016 16:49 #240606 by Michael Barnes
I liked both of these movies when I saw them, but then I never wanted to see them again. Neither is really any good in retrospect. They are both the typical ONE MAN MAKES FAKE HISTORY things Hollywood was all up into for a while.

That's why I'm throwing my vote away on Jeanne D'Arc (AKA The Messenger in the USA for some stupid ass reason). It is just as historically bankrupt, but it's also WAY less maudlin. And it's a little weird in spots- Dustin Hoffman as god, for example. Which is probably why it's been sort of neglected and forgotten. Oh, and it's also about a WOMAN which means the dudebros that tend to love these kinds of macho historical epics were sort of left holding their dicks without any way to connect the film to college football or whatever.

It also features trebuchets. How many movies have trebuchets in them? NOT MANY.

But yeah, Spartacus is better than all of the above.

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14 Dec 2016 17:00 #240608 by Ancient_of_MuMu
Braveheart Both are flawed, especially in retrospect but I never liked Gladiator, even when it was at its most popular.

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14 Dec 2016 17:12 #240609 by ChristopherMD
I love Luc Besson and Milla Jovovich and Jeanne d'Arc but The Messenger sucked donkey balls.

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14 Dec 2016 17:40 #240615 by wadenels
I really enjoyed Braveheart back when it came out, but I rewatched it a couple years ago and just wasn't that into it. There's this pervasive thing Mel Gibson has going on about how Mel Gibson wants you to realize how awesome Mel Gibson thinks Mel Gibson is. The Mel Gibson levels of intense Mel Gibson in Mel Gibson's Braveheart just irks me.

Gladiator wouldn't be that great without Crowe, but it does have him and he carries the film. So Gladiator gets me vote.
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14 Dec 2016 18:12 #240617 by Vlad
I share your feelings on Mel Gibson. He's the anti Kurt Russel to me.

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14 Dec 2016 19:49 #240619 by SebastianBludd
Gladiator was better before I realized that Russel Crowe's performance owed as much to him being typecast as a humble-bragging asshole as it did to his acting prowess.

Even though I have no desire to see either movie again, I'm giving the edge to Gladiator simply because there are more fight scenes and I'd rather watch a surly Russel Crowe than a cheerleading ("Freedom!") Mel Gibson.

Vote: Gladiator

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14 Dec 2016 19:55 #240621 by stoic
BRAVEHEART because I used to host an annual Robert Burns' Supper where we'd drink gallons of scotch and feast on haggis while wearing kilts

P.S. Q: What do you wear beneath your kilt? A: Your shoes. FREEEEEEEDOOOOMMMMMM!!!
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14 Dec 2016 22:13 #240625 by dysjunct
Vote: Gladiator, but it's really a vote against Mel Gibson.

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14 Dec 2016 23:42 #240626 by Sevej
Gladiator. If only because the later part of the Braveheart is not interesting.

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15 Dec 2016 04:19 #240635 by Matt Thrower

dysjunct wrote: Vote: Gladiator, but it's really a vote against Mel Gibson.


This. I just can't watch that insufferable, wife-beating, holier-than-thou prick in anything anymore. So Gladiator by default.

(The critical part of my brain agrees. Braveheart is very formulaic. Gladiator is too, but much less so.)

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15 Dec 2016 09:20 #240645 by Jackwraith
Hrm. So, I agree with the general consensus that neither movie is all that.

Braveheart has some things going for it, like the brilliant Patrick McGoohan ("I am not a number! I am a free man!") as Edward I, a great deal more levity in a fairly brooding screenplay, and one of the few recent films willing to show examples of the real suffering on a battlefield; especially a medieval one. It's also an interesting parallel to the current political situation in that history is written by the winners, so who's to say that the commonly-accepted version of Wallace's career was accurate or simply propaganda? (Mainstream media!) OTOH, the battle of Stirling Bridge really should have had a... you know... bridge. And the continued propagation of the Scottish highlanders-in-kilts thing is remarkable, given that no one wore them until the 19th century. Also, given that the majority of Scots at the time were descended from Irish Scot migrants, wearing Pictish warpaint would probably not be the way to rally the masses, as it were. Filmwise, I think it was a decent effort by Gibson, even if it was essentially a hagiography of Wallace, who could easily be seen as your average medieval brigand and opportunist. The fact that this adventure film was used to further the aims of modern Scottish independence is still kind of hilarious. For what it's worth, I don't think Rob Roy is any better.

Gladiator. So, this is the pinnacle example of Ridley Scott's descent from storyteller to circus ringmaster. Gladiator is Scott's most-heralded film and is almost universally loved except by those of us who bemoan the lack of actual storytelling in favor of explosions (Why are there explosions in ancient warfare? Hey, watch it and try to suss that out for yourself if you have three hours to spare.) This is the primary example of what became Scott's trademark since the 90s: glitz over substance. He had a wonderful cast (Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris) and a wealth of background to work from. I'm an acknowledged fan of Roman history and there are great stories to be told and you can do it without inventing anything to go along with them. This holds true in non-fiction, as well. Want to read about the Gallic Wars? Read the book by the man who conducted them. Scott decided to take a fictionalized scenario, add historical trappings to it, and then proceed, which is all well and good. But the fact is that the story itself is completely linear and asks almost no questions about its own or our modern circumstances and can't even be used to draw parallels to modern culture. It's a cipher, used mostly to show off Crowe's talent and employ hundreds of extras (real and CGI) to create a spectacle. It unintentionally draws an object lesson about itself and the old "bread and circuses" aphorism, in which modern audiences will swallow anything completely thoughtless as long as you have big battle scenes.

But that in itself is almost a betrayal of Scott's earlier and respected tendency for detail because many of the battle scenes don't even make any sense. Unlike, say, The Duellists, the costuming is largely wrong. No one used siege engines in a field battle. No one sane conducts a full cavalry charge through dense forest ("Hey! Your horse just tripped on that root... and you're dead.") Roman infantry tactics are completely ignored in favor of Hollywood-style single combat (among thousands of figures.) At the same time, the original script called for the gladiators to promote various products from the floor of the arena - which is what actually happened, in the same manner as former NFL stars boosting beer or razor blades during games - but Scott rejected the idea because he thought audiences would find it hard to believe. So, field catapults and explosions are believable enough, but stuff that actually happened is beyond the pale. Check. This is where story (even HIstory) gets abandoned to make a bigger splash on the screen. This is where a director's previous work, now highly respected and immortalized for its subtexts and meanings, gets abandoned so millions can be made with tigers and trapdoors. In many ways, Gladiator is remarkably similar to The Duellists, in that it's about the driving obsession of one man indexed against the larger politics proceeding around him. The problem is that the later film utterly lacks the dramatic depth of the previous one, no matter how good the lead actor was and is. Furthermore, Scott took almost three hours to tell a story that could have been done in half that time. I was not entertained.

So, um, yeah. I have a lot more to say about Gladiator and Ridley Scott, as opposed to Mel Gibson. So, my vote goes reluctantly to Braveheart. It's not that Gibson did so many things better. It's that Scott did so many things worse, especially given the acting talent he had on hand.
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