For almost five years now, Hollywood studios have beentrying to duplicate the success of "Gladiator"by making the same big-budget historical battle epic over ("TheLast Samurai") and over ("Troy")and over ("KingArthur") and over ("Alexander").

Each movie has re-imagined history from a modern, let's-keep-an-open-mindperspective and hewed to a shopworn formula in which the hero rallies hismen against great odds and for a greater good. He invariably leads theminto the same blood-and-mud war scenes, which are always shot in the samestaccato slow-motion that characterizes the chaos of combat but forgetsthe audience needs to be kept abreast of who is winning. The hero alsoalways finds time to romance a beautiful woman from another culture.

Aside from having different casts, the only significantvariations between these films seem to be 1) whether the hero was of noblebirth or came up from nothing to become a great leader, and 2) whetherthe battlefields are green and forested or brown and sandy. One thing mostof them definitely have in common is that they've bombed at the box office.

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