Photo: Dreamworks LLC & Universal Pictures
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We'll gladly sit through an Ancient Roman history lesson when it stars Russell Crowe and is directed by Ridley Scott. Bloody as he is, we love Russell as Maximus Decimus Meridius, the sexy and powerful Roman general who's imprisoned and condemned to gladiator games after the death of emperor Marcus Aurelius. The Best Picture Oscar winner gave American moviegoers a renewed interested in classical history—dubbed the "Gladiator Effect" by The New York Times—and kicked off a revival of historical epics like Troy, Alexander and 300.