I hadn’t seen this in over a decade and had genuinely forgotten much of the plot. A few things stand out:

  1. Awkward plot about sexism that sort of accidentally reinforces the role of the woman that it claims is insulting. 

  2. Dialogue can be a little erratic as it jumps from flower‑y to hyper-modern. 

  3. It’s extremely passionate and sincere about what it’s trying to say. 

  4. Heath and Clive make excellent foils for one another. In hindsight, it’s obvious that Ledger’s magic as an actor was his sheer magnetic confidence, and his total lack of fear. This film was a great match for him. 

  5. I am unashamed to admit I tear up at the father/​son story. 

  6. The second act drags. 

  7. The third act is basically a masterpiece of low-grade tension buildup to an (obvious) rousing conclusion, not because the script is all that good, but because it’s executed so well. 

Conclusion: this is a flawed piece of art, but it’s been nearly 20 years and it’s still a fantastic time. This slaps. It’s easily better than many other swords and sandals peers. I’m just gonna come out and say it: it’s better than Braveheart.

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