Sunday, June 20, 2010

Spartacus; Blood and Sand

Now this is taking the trend just about as far as it will go (without actually showing an erection). What began with 'I Claudius' and eventually became 'Rome', has now crossbred with '300' to form a mini series which seeks to show Rome in all its vulgar barbarity and sensual decadence. Any notions of Roman fortitude, stoicism or strait laced conservativism has been utterly cast aside, and Seneca be damned if Roman culture can't be depicted as one long orgy of violence and casual sex.

'Spartacus; Blood and Sand' is without a doubt the most blood thirsty, unrealistic and sex crazed depiction of Rome I have ever seen, though actually its set in Capua. It stars Andy Whitfield (whom I have never heard of) as Spartacus (thats him at the top of the post), the gladiator who rebelled against Rome in 73BC. John Hannah as Quintus Lentulus Batiatus (see below), the Roman who owned Spartacus and Lucy Lawless as Batiatus' wife Lucretia. Several lesser characters provide a number of supporting roles, foremost amongst them are Crixus and Oenomaus who were both fellow leaders of the rebellion. Oenomaus is played by Peter Mensah who was famously kicked down a bottomless hole in '300' to the cry of "This Is Sparta!".

Whats unrealistic, though not necessarily bad, about this series is the unrelenting sexual tone and the gladitorial scenes. The latter are repetative, and enhanced with such copious amounts of CGI blood that the images become asbtract and the former seems to be used as padding to stretch the story to thirteen episodes. The actors seem to be enjoying themselves though, so whilst it may seem a bit over the top, its still fairly entertaining. John Hannah in particular really gets into his stride, swearing and scheming from start to finish.

The best aspect of the series is probably the plot. Though its drawn out a bit, there is an underlying tension between Spartacus and the Roman Legate who had him enslaved which is explored at some length with the Legates wife acting as a sexual proxy for the Legate himself. As you might expect, there is no stone left unturned in this drama and sure enough, every one gets the good news eventually. The concluding episode is even titled 'Kill them all' and thats exactly what 'Spartacus; Blood and Sand' sets out to do.

The series ends when the revolt begins and its fairly obvious that a second series was planned. In the mean while, Andy Whitfield got cancer however, so I guess things are waiting on his recovery. Good luck Andy Whitfield.

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