Home » Gladiator II: Paul Mescal battles a rhinoceros in the upcoming film

Gladiator II: Paul Mescal battles a rhinoceros in the upcoming film

by Stewart Cole
image caption, Paul Mescal plays Lucius, whose character was the grandson of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the first Gladiator film

  • Author, Helen Bushby
  • Role, Culture reporter

The trailer for the sequel to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator has been released, showing off several epic scenes, including a water fight in Rome’s Colosseum and Paul Mescal being mauled by a rhinoceros.

All Of Us Strangers star Mescal plays Lucius, fighting for his life as a gladiator despite his high status as the nephew of the corrupt former emperor Commodus.

The trailer opens with Lucius recalling his childhood memory of the former Roman commander Maximus fighting his uncle in the arena.

“I remember that day. I’ve never forgotten it, that a slave could avenge an emperor,” Lucius says, before being seen in a flashback from the first film, being dragged to safety by his mother.

image caption, A rhinoceros is driven into action in the arena

Here’s a quick recap of the first Gladiator movie: the plot revolves around the distinguished Roman general, Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is called upon to inherit the role of emperor from the ailing Marcus Aurelius.

But Commodus murdered the emperor and took the title, before killing Maximus’ family and leaving him as a slave. Maximus rose to become a gladiator, returning to Rome to exact his revenge.

Some fights involved wild animals – Gladiator featured tigers in the arena, while an angry rhinoceros with a bloody horn pounced on Mescal in the aftermath.

It’s fair to say that the first film caused a flurry of excitement for fans of Crowe’s powerful portrayal of Maximus.

image caption, The arena has been transformed into a bloody water fight – but are there sharks?
image caption, Denzel Washington as gladiator sponsor Macrinus tells Lucius, “Wrath is your gift”

Lucius undoubtedly resembles the honorable Maximus, who fights from below while having a much higher purpose.

Lucius is then captured from his home away from Rome and brought there as a prisoner.

He becomes a gladiator, working for Macrinus, played by Denzel Washington, who sponsors fighters like Oliver Reed’s Proximo did in the first film.

Lucius defends his birthright, saying he doesn’t know where he was born, adding, “I never knew a mother and or a father.”

“You shall be my instrument,” replies Macrinus.

It seems that the twin emperors now in their place – played by Joseph Quinn and Fred Hechinger – are also corrupt. We see them laughing devilishly while the gladiators die in their mock water fight (that happened in real life).

Lucius’ mother Lucilla, also played by Connie Nielsen in the original film, watches in horror as her son fights beneath her, though we don’t know if she recognizes him.

However, we see her bring him full circle, back to Maximus, giving him a ring that belonged to the Roman general before he died.

image caption, Connie Nielsen plays Lucilla, daughter of the late Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius

Like the original, the film appears to be about the corruption of power, with worthy, downtrodden individuals taking on the power of Rome’s rulers.

Lucius favors “strength and honor,” while another Roman general, Marcus Acacius, played by The Last of Us star Pedro Pascal, says, “I will not waste another generation of young men for their vanity.” , along with shots of the emperors.

We don’t yet know enough about Pascal’s character to know where his morality fully lies.

The trailer ends with Mescal and Pascal fighting in the arena, with the gladiator appearing to have the upper hand as he holds two swords crossed at the general’s throat.

image caption, Mescal and Pascal battle at the end of the trailer

Initial responses to X were a mix of positive and negative, with some people excited for the sequel, while others said it wouldn’t be as good as the original.

Some fans spotted what looked like sharks in the water fighting, with says director Kyle Prohaska: “I’m all for Gladiator II. I’m just going for some of those crazy sequences. Sharks in the arena? Rhino? Denzel? Come on. This is definitely one of those sequels that nobody asked for, but this one looks better than most.” .

“I hate to mention that I’m not a fan of the Gladiator II trailer,” he said.

“Terrible music choice, none of this convinced me that it could be as good as the original, and honestly, it looks like it could be pretty good at best. My hype meter went way down.”

image caption, Sir Ridley Scott and Paul Mescal on the set of the film

There was also controversy on social media over the soundtrack, which was No Church in the Wild by Jay-Z and Kanye West.

One user wrote: “In what world does Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sequel need Jay-Z and Kanye West? Stop putting songs in trailers.”

Another plus though, He wrote: “That strong hip-hop really works in the Gladiator 2 trailer. It fits the era so well.”

Sir Ridley, who directed the 2023 Oscar and Bafta-winning epic Napoleon, he told Deadline last year that he made Gladiator II because “financially, it makes sense…

“I thought that [first] The movie was, as it were, completely satisfying, creatively complete, so why mess with it, right?

“But these cycles have gone on and on and on and on globally for the last 20 years. It started to identify itself as an obvious thing to do, and that’s how it evolved.”

Gladiator II opens in UK cinemas in November.

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