This is one of the absolute best films I have ever seen in my life. Superb script, superb directing, superb casting, superb acting, superb editing, superb music, superb costumes and sets, superb battle scenes, and last but not least, superb stunts. Everything comes together in a wonderful whole. I can watch it over and over again, and so far, have never tired of it.
Of course, it is pure fiction as far as history is concerned, but who cares? The plot and characters weave together in an enthralling storyline, and even though I am a bit of a history buff, I really didn't care if Commodus didn't actually murder Marcus Aurelius, and Marcus Aurelius didn't have any intention of bringing back the Republic, and Lusilla wasn't really the lovely woman portrayed by Connie Nielsen, but actually more realistically resembled Cruella Deville, from all accounts I've read.
To me, it is one of those rare movies where all the pieces come together beautifully, and is thoroughly satisfying from start to finish. Like "Braveheart" and "We Were Soldiers", two other movies that remain perennial favourites with me.
If I could, I would give it 10 stars.