Spartacus (1960)

Spartacus Movie Review

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Spartacus Movie Review

Spartacus is a 1960 epic film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov and Charles Laughton. It is a typical, but very entertaining film.

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I’m Spartacus!

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Spartacus Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

It is set in the 1st century BC and follows the leader of a slave revolt. The problem with the story here is that, at least for the most part, it is some standard fare. There isn’t anything unique and new here and it is a basic epic movie of the time. However, what it lacks in authenticity, it more than makes up for with the sheer entertainment value in its spectacle. This is such a fun movie to watch and it is always engaging to follow which is a great achievement given its three hour long running time.

Spartacus is a typical, but solid hero. Crassus was good, but forgettable to me. Varinia I really liked as she is not just a love interest, but quite a strong female character in her own right. Gracchus is the highlight as he is so funny and so likable, the same goes for Batiatus and the two are wonderful together. Antoninus is forgettable and Caesar is underused.

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The acting in this movie is really good. And it has such a strong ensemble cast with every actor delivering a good performance. Kirk Douglas is quite good as is Laurence Olivier, but Charles Laughton and Peter Ustinov are the highlights here. Ustinov deserved his Oscar for this role and Laughton is excellent as always in such a memorable and sympathetic role.

Spartacus is a technically splendid picture as is expected. The cinematography is really good and the scenery is excellent. The film is always wonderful to look at with the sequences on the vast landscapes with the slaves on the road being the highlights. The tone I also really liked as it isn’t always dramatic, but quite comedic at times with some really funny lines. And the dialogue is pretty good as well.

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Spartacus Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

The costumes and production design are superb, the pacing is mostly good and the film is never dull despite its long running time. The emotion is there, but thankfully never too emphasized. And I really liked how it began and ended with those two acts being the standouts in my opinion.

However, there are some quite evident flaws in this production. Spartacus has an admittedly good score, but some of it is overloud and just too grand in my opinion. Also, the action is overly present in its first half whereas there should have been more of it in the second half. It is very unevenly spread. As for its direction, it is definitely good, but not as great as I hoped it would be. It is evident that Stanley Kubrick has always been so versatile with him tackling the epic genre here being so admirable. However, the end product lacks his signature touch and the whole film never has anything that distinguishes it from other epics of the time. That is its biggest problem – it is most certainly good, but good in an expected fashion and never unique.

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Spartacus Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

Spartacus deserved the technical awards it received and it deserved to lose the ones it was nominated in. It is also weird that it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture when it is the type of a film that usually got nominated at the time. But it is quite a good film, very entertaining as well. It isn’t great and far from some of the best epics of the time, but it is still a fun genre flick.

Spartacus never has anything unique about it that would differentiate it from other epics of the time and it is uneven at times, but it is mostly such a good and very entertaining film filled with great visuals, some excellent performances, solid dialogue and many great scenes. It isn’t great, but it is pretty good and such an entertaining, always engaging flick which is admirable given its long running time.

My Rating – 4

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Posted in 1960, 1960s, FILM DECADES, Historical, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , , , .

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