Is this not why you are here?? This week’s theme for cinematic adventures to inspire your wanderlust: Rome.
RT = Rotten Tomatoes | IMDb = International Movie Database
- Gladiator (2000), obviously.
RT: 76% | IMDb: 8.5
This is such a no-brainer that it almost didn’t make the list. But it did make the list. Because it’s awesome. If you disagree, take it up with my friend Oscar. And If you haven’t seen it, drop everything and fix that issue in your life right now.
Ridley Scott’s knack for extravagant set pieces and stylized, jump-cut-whiz-bang action comes full force in one of his better pictures of the 2000s. Set in the year A.D. 180, Russell Crowe portrays a Roman general-turned-prisoner, Maximus, who must battle to the death as a gladiator in the Colosseum.
Beyond self-preservation, Maximus is hell-bent for revenge on Emperor Commodus (played by a Joaquin Phoenix that you have never wanted to punch harder in the face). Blood, violence, and testosterone ensue, leading to some of the most iconic battles and dialogue to grace our culture.
Scott took great care to depict ancient Rome as accurately as possible. While the narrative may be fictionalized, the representation of the empire is a dazzling spectacle with visuals that still hold up 15 years later.
Perhaps more impressive is that, nearly 2000 years later, the city doesn’t look a whole lot different than it did in Scott’s masterpiece.
- Angels & Demons (2009)
RT: 37% | IMDb: 6.7
Disclaimer: nothing else on this list is going to top Gladiator. Not even close. Still, any Ron Howard + Tom Hanks team-up is bound to be a fun time, regardless of critical reception.
Angels & Demons is a movie sequel adaptation of the novel prequel to The Davinci Code (just go with it). This time our protagonist, Robert Langdon (Hanks), is back at his antics of following intricate and historically-interwoven clues to find the National Treas–wait, no that was something else…
On display here is the Vatican City, which actually didn’t allow the film to shoot on location due to the controversial nature of the whole, you know, sacrilegiousness /Illuminati/conspiracies/etc. etc. That didn’t stop the crew from a stellar job replicating parts of the Vatican and using other areas of Rome for the rest.
It might not be a great film, but it’s a fun one. For all the outlandish antics of Langdon & Friends, recently-discovered secret pagan basilicas prove that Rome still has plenty going on beneath the surface. Literally.
- The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)
RT: 40% | IMDb: 5.3
Man, this went real downhill real quick. Of course there are much better options (see below), but we live in a Buzzfeed world where nostalgia is king and hindsight is rose-colored. I never said these would all be good movies, okay?
A nearly college-aged Hilary Duff plays the title character as she graduates from middle school and takes a class trip to Rome. Devoid of fan favorites like broseph Matt and BFF Miranda (but seriously, where were they?), Lizzie gallivants around Rome in a love triangle still more emotionally intense than Edward and Jacob.
The Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, and other Roman icons make cameos in the film, as well as a wealth of stock footage of skyline panoramas spliced in every 5th frame to remind us where this takes place.
It’s Rome, by the way.
But hey now, this is what dreams are made of.
Are you not entertained??
Whether you’re watching To Rome with Love (2012), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) or Roman Holiday (1953), you’ll notice minimal change in the Eternal City from one decade to another. For that matter, Rome only continues to look more ancient as new ruins are uncovered and explored. The result is a feeling like stepping waaaay back in time. Talk about nostalgia—Buzzfeed would lose their minds.
See also: The Pink Panther 2, EuroTrip, Jumper, Ocean’s Twelve, Mission: Impossible III