This is the first review I've written of a TV series. What prompted me to extend so much effort, go online and write more then a 100 words is the fact that this is probably one of the worst shows in the history of television and here's why:
1) The show is a bad excuse for gratuitous and explicit sex scenes which add absolutely nothing to the plot (weak as it is) - and I'm certainly not a mormon (I loved HBO's Rome).
2) More on that subject - the amount of orgies and naked women that appear on screen make it seem impossible for the Romans to have conquered the known world - who would have had the time? The producer of this show probably works for Hustler.
3) The amount of gore is ridiculous, it makes 300 appear as innocent as Sponge Bob. There are fifteen minutes in which you just see blood flying around. The problem is, it doesn't look real, it looks plain silly. You want good gore - watch 300.
These three points lead in to the following questions - what about the plot? Is the story just an excuse for more gore and naked women? They even have a part in the episode that has naked women swimming in red water which seems to combine both features. The Spartacus revolt was pretty well-documented and featured well-known and very interesting Romans like Crassus who had 6000 people crucified or Sulla who was a terrible dictator later on. Why did the writers feel that they had to create fictional characters who have dumb motives? The truth is much better then fiction! But what can one expect from Sam Raimi, the man who gave us Hercules and Xena; shows that are fit for viewing for ten year olds. He just took the concept that worked there, added gore and naked women and came up with this new formula. I'm thinking of taking this formula and trying it out on another show as well -
Fiends (just like Friends but with a twist): A group of friends in NYC who like having bi-sexual swinger parties and cutting off homeless heads, all using the latest CGI. One of them could be an expert on dinosaurs (very kinky), one an accountant (even kinkier), one a chef and another an actor in a Gladiator movie...
And I'll finish with the following quote from the show which is Pulitzer-worthy. The scene - Spartacus saying good bye to his wife before going off to war:
"Keep this close to your thighs, the thought will warm us both". This actually chills me to the bone...
I'm confused about this show as I start watching it. The first half of the show felt painfully awkward and as if it were written by a seventh grade fantasy freak. There's a difference between good fiction on television and fan-fiction, and the beginning of the show, despite having copious amounts of sex, violence and nudity, fell somewhere in between. But once Spartacus was captured and began his life as a slave, that's when things kicked into high gear and when things became a little less TV-movie-ish and a little more interesting.
First off, I have to say that the show (at least for me) rides almost completely on Andy Whitfield's shoulders. Sure, John Hannah is entertaining as a gladiator-owner who ends up buying Spartacus, but Whitfield is the heart and soul of the show and as long as he's in it, the show is worth watching. However, the show clearly doesn't care about how unrealistic it is about the time period. I'm not sure the swear words that the characters were saying were even in use back then, but I suppose we're just supposed to ignore it.
I was expecting worse after some of the things I read about the show, but for me, it seems more like harmless fun. The fight scenes are spectacular and the plot seems to move at a pretty rapid-fire pace. If they can work on the writing a bit, perhaps I'd be willing to rate it a bit higher, but for now, I can do no higher than this. It's a show that has promise and has scenes that live up to the potential that the show has, and then completely ruins it with ridiculous ones.
I'm sure the show will get better with time, but for me, it was a sort of shaky pilot.
So far i read the reviews about the naked women, the overuse of the blood and how Spartacus was this and Spartacus was that....Well let me clear something up for you. The man they are portraying in this show IS NOT Spartacus. He goes unnamed through the length of the Pilot episode...until he is Given the name Spartacus by the Councilor. Why that name??? Because Quintus is there, who appreciates the fighting form, the art and the strengths that lay behind it, Who dislikes the games being played by the other councilors, and the way they are misusing the Gladiatorial games. He see's something in this man, who has just defeated all odds, and first suggests sparing him and then speaks up and says that man fights like the Thracian King of Legend: Spartacus. Next the Blood. This is about the blood spilt in the sand of the Colosseum, and whilst some scenes do show a screen splashed full of blood much like Kill Bill did, it has its purpose and effect. The way in which they do it portrays the amount of death and carnage, and gives off the truthful nature of a battlefield. In a battle such as that you wont escape the blood, you will be soaked in it. There are a few too many slow motion punches, but they are pretty well played to portray the turning of events, and thoughts going through peoples minds. Think this is what i am going to do next whilst watching in real time...too late you have been knocked down and killed. Romans during that era were well known for Greed and Gluttony...hence the wine, the Greek waters carried to Rome, the pompous attitudes, and the Naked slaves- that's right slaves not just everyone, and the people who are being taken care of at home safe whilst others fight the war and farm the fields...that is what is portrayed with that.
I liked the Show, and whilst I thought the Pilot would have more to it than it did, I believe it set the Plot, and the relationships between the characters quite well. I look forward to seeing more.
I had a low expectation for this show, whenever a television program describes itself as brutal, epic and sexy, I start to imagine sex in the city with guns. However, I was transfixed from start to finish.
I am always a sucker for revenge stories and I'm not ashamed to admit my strange penchant for gore and violence in entertainment, but Spartacus also contains an incredibly compelling story and cleverly juxtaposes the almost comic book imagery with polictics, class and identity.
Yes their is a lot of nudity, but it does not exist, as others have implied, as a cheap ratings booster. Neither is there a focus on female nudity, I don't think I've seen so many naked men since that terrible incident at my local rugby club. The point, is to highlight the way slaves were objectified in a time where glutony and excess are a way of life for the ruling classes.
But make no mistake, this is a guilty pleasure, the cinematography is extremely stylized and the references to 300 and Gladiator are very apparant. If you are at all prudish, or sensitive to on-screen violence then this show is certainly not for you.
It's coarse, it's bloody, it's vulgar and it's also utterly delicious.
I knew the show wouldn't be your usual historical drama but I didn't expect it to be that brutal. It was one hell of a bloody pilot ! When Rome impressed us with its high-end production and mature cast, The Red Serpent was more about the dark deoxygenated visuals and hyper dynamic action. But like in The Tudors it was also a lot about the relationship between power and women.
To tell the truth it took my neurons some time to coagulate because of the numerous brilliant ideas that could make Spartacus : Blood and Sand the 300 of television. First it's not a surprise Sam Raimi co-created it considering his past works. Ready for an other Army of Darkness night fever ? However it wasn't funny at all and definitely not a parody of Gladiator (2000). The only humorous scenes involved John Hannah's character and his greedy wife. He was so hilarous in The Mummy that I'm glad to see him back. Moreover his profile should help to take all the graphic violence more lightly. In fact once a body part was cut sharp the red fluid was pouring so much that I found most of the scenes jaw dropping. They even match some Mortal Kombat fatalities ! The last time I was so fascinated by such fights was probably while watching Braveheart but let's consider that I haven't seen 300 yet.
As for the cliché but inspiring story of course it's all about Spartacus and his beautiful damsel in distress, Sura. The first seconds made me skeptical about the digital visuals but I instantly knew Andy Whitfield was the perfect match for the famous slaves leader. Erin Cummings is also great as his wife. She both has an irresistible sex appeal and strong charisma. In fact the scene where she picks straw fruits is my favorite because she looked like a nose bleeding Little Red Riding Hood. There was something fantastic about the ambiance and the following minutes were just astonishing. In fact I was very impressed by the editing in general because some transitions were just mesmerizing. One second Spartacus is warming up with his friends, the next they're fighting deadly cells in a plasma of snowflakes. It's not everyday that you can see so much creativity. I wouldn't be surprised if it rained vampire cats and zombie dogs in the upcoming episodes !
But the problem is that I was so pleased by this pilot that I'm already asking for more and the next episode, Sacramentum Gladiatorum, better be even more gory and unpredictable. They definitely have to take things to the next level ! For example I wouldn't be against some mythological elements like in the God of War video game series. I also think that visually playing with the vital importance of organs like heart could bring some depth to the cut scenes. Anyone for ogres in bloodlust ? What about turning deadly injured characters into stones ? What if some of them actually had green blood ? The sexual elements could also use some dirty cleaning because the lust scenes were quite boring and after the epic butchery they seemed even more conventional. What about playing with the most controversial feelings of the tortured characters ? These few ideas could modestly be the necessary substances that could raise the show among the pioneers of a new visual and savage era.
It's useless to resist the infection because this review should have already spread some parasites in your veins. You already want to know what happened to Sura and how Spartacus managed to defeat his enemies. And as every hero has a nemesis I can't wait to watch the upcoming episodes. Moreover the ending was so captivating and twisted that I really wonder what his love for her will allow him to do, beside painting sand. I also found quite smart to give so much meaning to words in such a physical show. It successfully brought some depth to it. In Spartacus blood is not associated to its importance to life but to the death caused by fatal injuries. Its creators gave birth to a creature whom blood is shed for us in a cup of entertainment and visual madness. That is their testament. Not watching it would make you an heretic and trust me, you don't want to wake up the berserker within him !
I totally agree with "ollyhume's" review. Big-budget Hollywood Films are not allowed this much freedom. Nowhere else can I find a series where so little is censored... and this series does not push the boundaries just for the sake of pushing boundaries... the content seriously enhances the atmosphere and the impact on the viewer. In my own studies of Roman society, I've often pictured it far more graphic. I'm just pleased to see a series that attempts to approach that line. After all, the life of a slave in Roman society (whatever the Age, or particular stage of Roman Civilization) depended greatly on the temperament of their "Dominus"... which is portrayed in this series very well. I find the series to be refreshing on many levels... the language (even though it is obviously not spoken in the tongue of the day), the brutality of the training and fight scenes(even though the blood is greatly exaggerated-it was done in the same manner as the Film "300") and especially the dynamics of the social hierarchy. In summary, I really dig this series. It is what is, and it surely will not appeal to some... however, as a student of history - absent the dramatic, and break-neck plot twists and turns which propel the show - this is the most accurate portrayal of Roman society I've ever seen in a fictitious drama.
I would give every episode between an 8.5 and a 10.
I had hopes. I really wanted to like this. I just couldn't.
I love action flicks. The latest batch of Chinese action movies (guns, swords, and martial arts), Sci Fi hard action, Horror flicks. I can handle the gore. So those elements were really a problemit was how the director handled it. I don't usually think about the directing of the shows and movies I watch but the directing here was so intrusive that it began to bug me.
The slo-mo stop action for the fight scenes - so we could really see all the cool blood and stuff - were so over used it became funny. In the final gladiator sequence I found myself wondering if the swords had honed enough edges, back in the day, to cause those wounds. I just kept getting knocked out of the story. Unfortunately, when I was able to focus on the story....the script got in my way. So many of the personal scenes felt over written and too on point. I started comparing the script to that of Rome. It was no where close to that level of quality.
I really wanted to like this show. But it fell so far beneath the mark that I spent the entire episode judging the element rather than enjoying the story.
It's not worth purchasing STARZ. I did spend a lot of this show judging rather than enjoying.
The Tudors, you are not. The latest series from Starz, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, is high on blood and gore, but low on historical basis, reasonable plots and just entertainment in general. The show is a decent counterpart to the current lineup the pay cabler boasts (Party Down, Crash, Head Cases) but Starz is clearly not on the level of HBO or Showtime and this will not be their golden ticket toward reaching that plateau.
If you feel the need to watch that, I would advise you not to do so after eating lunch as this is one of the goriest shows you will ever seen. Even Jason Vorhees would cringe at the amount of blood on Spartacus: Blood and Sand. For the action freak, for the twentysomething male with the maturity level of a desk lamp, this show will appeal to them as I do not think there was a minute without a sword being drawn. For those who want more from a television series, those with high IQs and those who laud well-done story arcs, this may not be your show.
Every series can be traced and compared to something else and there is a bit of The Tudors in Spartacus. There is the corrupt leader, the good-intentioned sidekick and the peasant who becomes a martyr whether that is their intention or not; but the comparisons end there.
Creator Sam Raimi has the Spiderman movies and Xena: Warrior Princess to his credit, but he failed to cast anybody noteworthy or really all that talented in this show. Andy Whitfield plays the title character, but he is a relative unknown with very little experience stateside. An unknown is not necessarily the wrong way to go for the role, but Whitfield fails to achieve the desired quintessential hero admiration that is certain for this part.
You should watch Spartacus: Blood and Sand if you are fan of special effects. You will be blown away by them; they are that good. You should not watch Spartacus: Blood and Sand if you like programs like Damages and Fringe and want strong acting, directing and writing.
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