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AUSXIP Spartacus News


 

        20 November 2009

Spartacus Blood and Sand Season 1, Episode 1 Review


Spartacus Blood and Sand: Season 1 Episode 1
The Red Serpent Review


by MaryD
 

"If you go to war, you are destined for great and unfortunate things."  Sura to Spartacus

I'm writing this review (without spoilers) after watching the first Spartacus: Blood and Sand episode via Starz. Many thanks to Starz for giving me the opportunity.

Betrayed by his country. Beaten into slavery. Reborn as a warrior. Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a graphic and visceral account of Rome's most famous gladiator. When he's separated from the love of his life, Spartacus is forced into the gruesome and bloodthirsty arena, where a grisly death is primetime entertainment. Spartacus must fight for survival, befriend his enemies and play politics in this new world of corruption, violence, sex and fame. He'll be seduced by power and tormented by vengeance. But his passion will give him the strength to prevail over every obstacle, in this modern and uninhibited tale of death, honor and endurance.

Starring Australian actor, Andy Whitfield (McLeod's Daughters) as Spartacus, Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) as Lucretia, John Hannah (The Mummy, Four Weddings and A Funeral) as Batiatus and Peter Mensah (300, The Incredible Hulk) as Doctore, this unique mix of live action, graphic novel effects and brutal battle sequences is set to make Spartacus: Blood & Sand an epic television event.

All the media hype has been that Spartacus Blood and Sand had sex, violence, nudity, blood and more violence and did I mention the sex and nudity? Does it? Yes it does and I'll address those without any spoilers before going into detail about my thoughts on the various characters.

Sex:
Yes there is BUT it's not there because someone wanted a sex scene. There is a purpose to the scene/s. It's relevant for the people and relevant for the time it is set. Simple as that. I actually thought it was very beautiful.
 

Violence:
Oh yeah. Lots of that but I found myself seeing it in a way that was rather operatic than serious gore. There are moments when the MarySquick factor kicks in but that was soon gone to be replaced with caring about what happens to the gladiators; I found myself getting very emotionally attached to a couple including Spartacus which is rather interesting considering I just "met" them.

Nudity:
Oh yes indeedy. Similar with the violence, there is a context to it. Will it offend? More than likely because people will be offended if they want to be offended. I have a simple solution to this dilemma. Don't watch. Is the nudity graphic? Depends on your definition of graphic. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder or in this case, Nudity is the eye of the beholder. I found the nudity / sex to be on par with what has been shown on Australian TV. It didn't bother me all that much but then I'm a big girl and can handle watching some good looking nude people on television.

So that's the three main issues the media has been occupied with and since I've addressed those, I'll go on to much more interesting things like the actual show and the characters:

Andy Whitfield (Spartacus)

His character bio reads: A Thracian Soldier in the Roman Auxiliary who was taken prisoner. As punishment for defying Legate Claudius Glaber he was sentenced to die in the gladiator arena. Against all odds, he survived killing four gladiators. His sentence was commuted to slavery and he was bought by Batiatus to be trained as a gladiator in the Ludus. Andy as Spartacus is a revelation. I will admit to have doubts about the actor chosen as the fierce warrior Spartacus but after having watched the first episode, those fears evaporated in seconds. Andy Whitfield is PERFECT for the role. I was very impressed with the way he brought Spartacus to life. Spartacus' love for his wife is very evident and every decision he makes is to defend his village and get back to Sura.

 

Lucy Lawless (Lucretia).

The character bio reads: Batiatus' equal in every way, she sees every angle and manages situations with a steel grip inside a kid glove. Normally I wouldn't list Lucy as number two but in this case, Andy is the star of the show. For Lucy fans, Lucy is so right for this role. For Xena fans...there is a nod to Xena fans (well I perceived it as a nod but I could be wrong and reading it all wrong but what the heck it was fun). I do not want to give too much away but I do love watching Lucy's very expressive face. She can convey so much without uttering a word. Fascinating.

 

Erin Cummings (Sura)

Her character bio reads: Spartacus' wife and a Thracian priestess who foretells his life will bring great and unfortunate things. She is captured at the same time as Spartacus, but while he goes to Capua, she is raped by soldiers and sold into slavery. Erin as Sura is both soft hearted but can handle herself quite nicely; I did enjoy that aspect. There are no damsels in distress wall flowers in this story (so far). She is a very interesting character and her love for Spartacus is matched by his love for her. She utters the line that has been in the trailer: Destined for great but unfortunate things.

 

Viva Bianca (Illythia) as Glaber's wife Illythia.

Her character bio reads: The spoiled, selfish daughter of Senator Albinius, she is also the wife of Claudius Glaber. Young and impressionable, she finds herself alone and bored in Capua. Now this character is an absolute revelation. The one character I initially thought after reading the character info would be boring but she is anything but boring. VERY interesting. Watch this character...and the bio is a way off.

 


Craig Parker (Glaber)

His character bio reads: a Roman Legate who aims for great things, without the ability to achieve them. Though he loves his wife, he married her for the political advantage she provides. He blames Spartacus for his failed military campaign. Oh boy does he blame Sparty! There is no love for Spartacus and I felt sorry for Glaber for about a nanosecond.

It soon passed <g>

 

John Hannah (Batiatus) 

His character bio reads: The owner of the Ludus, he has fallen upon hard times financially. He bought Spartacus hoping to achieve greatness once again. In his wife Lucretia, he has found a true partner both emotionally and physically. They share a passionate marriage and desire for social advancement. There is very little Batiatus can or will deny her.  The pairing of John as Batiatus and Lucy as Lucretia is an interesting one. He comes across as a weak man which is rather fascinating but he isn't a weak man...

 

Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a show that will generate a lot of media hype because of the nudity and the violence but look beyond the hype and see what the show is about. Hope, survival, revenge, fear, hate and love; elements that make a great show. Yes there is nudity. Yes there is violence. But there is also a story.

There is a plot and a very good one, it has characters you will get emotionally invested in, one way or another. It has a great foundation. The visuals are AMAZING and there were a couple of moments where my WOW factor kicked in because they were so well done that I had to rewind and watch it again.

Overall I would say I thoroughly enjoyed the premiere episode and I'm looking forward to the series. Watch Andy Whitfield, Lucy Lawless, John Hannah and the rest of the cast of this new series. It's going to be worth it.

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