There is absolutely nothing redeeming about Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
I enjoyed the hell out of it anyway.
Spartacus: Blood and Sand is the Starz movie network’s newest venture in television, and it’s every bit as ridiculous as you’d imagine. It’s as if the network took everything they liked about 300 and HBO’s Rome (we’re not even going to mention Gladiator, they don’t occupy the same solar system), stirred it up in a pot, added a little to much BAM! and ended up with this. The CGI is laughable so the gore has little impact, nudity is rampant, the sex plentiful, and the plot…well, let’s just say if you’ve watched any movie or television in the past, you can see the twists coming a mile away.
There’s something about it, though. The part of me that loves 300 and revels in the drama Grey’s Anatomy provides was completely engrossed in it, even though I did spend half the time laughing. It’s a good time waster, popcorn television to take your mind off life when you need it.
Lucy Lawless and John Hannah are always a joy to watch, bringing an extra spark to their roles. They can do better, but any mediocre performance from the pair is better than the rest of the entire cast, so they get a pass. Even when they have bizarre sex scenes that involve them watching each other be pleasured by slaves as they talk about the wealth and power they think will rightfully fall into their laps.
Alan Whitfield gets the titular role, seemingly playing to the best of his abilities with a script so spare and obvious. There’s nothing surprising about this, not from his start as a Wild Thracian, losing his wife to the Evil Roman Commander (played by Craig Parker) and, finally, defeating four men at his own execution and winning the crowd’s approval, thus sealing his fate when John Hannah buys him as part of his new batch of gladiators.
Seriously, there’s nothing new about this.
Then there’s the rampant nudity and sex — yeah, I get that people went around naked like it aint no thang back then, but I really did not need to see a row of gladiator penises in a dimly lit room, nor did I need to see a bunch of naked slave women making out at a party. Come on, Starz. There’s a better way to appear edgy.
Spartacus: Blood and Sand is comparable to a teenager trying to seem grown up: obsessed with sex and violence and screaming for attention, with none of the substance or depth. Hopefully, like all kids, that will change as the show goes on — and it will realize it needs to stop trying to live up to 300 and Rome.
Watch the trailer:
Spartacus: Blood and Sand airs Fridays at 10pm EST on Starz.