Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Gladiator Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Masterful but really violent Oscar winner.
  • R
  • 2000
  • 155 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 38 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 117 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

"Strength and honor," the motto that Maximus lives by, is upheld in his behavior no matter what happens to him. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

In the midst of losing his family, his life as a Roman soldier and general, and his chance to become emperor, Maximus continues to live his life upholding the motto "strength and honor," even as he is sold into slavery and forced to become a gladiator. 


Very violent, many bloody battle scenes, many deaths. Main character's wife and child are burned and crucified to death offscreen, his wife's charred ankles and feet are shown. Tigers are killed with swords. Decapitations. Bodies cut in half with swords. A lot of blood. Maximus cuts into his skin to remove the tattoo that distinguishes him as a Roman soldier and general. References to rape and incest.


A character desires his sister. An exposed male backside. A character is said to have "moaned like a whore."


"Bitch," and one "s--t." A trader who has purchased two giraffes openly wonders if they are "queer giraffes" because they are not mating. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gladiator is a 2000 movie in which Russell Crowe plays a Roman general who is betrayed by a power-hungry emperor's son and must survive as a gladiator. This is a very violent movie. A woman and child are brutally tortured, killed, and crucified mostly offscreen, and their charred feet and ankles are shown. People are sliced up, burned, and decapitated. Blood is constantly being shed. Tigers are killed by swords. There are references to rape and incest. We see an exposed male backside. A character is said to have "moaned like a whore." We hear "bitch" and "s--t." Overall, while a very loose interpretation of what actually happened in the earliest years of the reign of the tyrannical Emperor Commodus and the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire, the movie does explore the theme of stoicism and how it helped Maximus to survive tremendous hardships as he continued to live by the motto "strength and honor." 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6, 8, 12, and 15-year-old Written bycheval85 October 31, 2009

Great for adults or mature teens

I love this movie but it is not for children! My very mature 15 yr. old was able to appreciate it. Russell Crowe is a great actor (you forget he's acting... Continue reading
Parent Written byRichard M. January 28, 2018

Top 3 movies of all time

I MUST disagree with the Common Sense Media rating of 1-Star for "Positive messages" and 2-Stars for "Positive role models." One of the rea... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byJadenp February 11, 2011

Perfect for teens & adults. Amazing movie.

Amazing movie. It seems Russell Crowe was BORN for this movie! Very good, and don't let the R rating make you think it's too violent for teens or kids... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byCoolpool785 September 21, 2018

Amazing film is entertaining but extremely graphic

This is an amazing film, highly recommended, but not for the faint of heart. The opening scene shows a headless corpse atop of a spooked horse running into a Ro... Continue reading

What's the story?

In 180 AD Rome, the aging Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) watches as Maximus (Russell Crowe), his most trusted general, fights the barbarians in Germania in a terrible, bloody battle. The emperor's son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), wants to succeed his father, but Caesar doesn't think he has what it takes. When Aurelius chooses Maximus to lead the people back to democracy, Commodus kills his father before the Senate hears about Maximus, then orders the execution of Maximus and his family. Maximus escapes, is captured, is sold into slavery, and becomes a gladiator. To confront Commodus, he must win enough fights to be called to Rome. Meanwhile, Commodus finds ways to distract the populace while he disables the Senate. The only one he trusts is his sister, Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), who pretends to support him to protect her young son.

Is it any good?

GLADIATOR is a movie of such astounding scope and sweep and such masterful storytelling that it makes its storyline seem classic rather than clichéd. Breathtakingly sumptuous visuals credibly recreate the world of Rome in 180 AD, a world of unimaginable reach and power. Director Ridley Scott stages the fight scenes brilliantly, each more inventive and gripping than the last. The results are something like a deranged computer game, with new peril coming literally from all sides. Fellow gladiator Juba (Djimon Hounsou) explains the appeal of the fights when he says that fear and wonder are a powerful combination. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why some people are drawn to watch other people battle. What's the appeal of movies like this?

  • There are many historical inaccuracies in this movie. Why do you think the filmmakers decided to tell a fictional account of the Roman Empire instead of sticking to the facts? 

  • What do you think would be the challenges in bringing to life the Roman Empire circa 180 AD? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

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