Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Plenty of the old ultra-violence my droogies.
 Last year, Andy Whitfield's star was on the rise. He was the focus point of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, an in-your-face bloody brutality fest about gladiators who are slaves in the house of Batiatus. These poor bastards work out and train from dawn until dusk, all awaiting their chance of glory in the arena. Glory means slaughtering their opponent and winning the hearts of the blood crazed crowd.

Though the series had the look of the film 300 and redefined "over-the-top" on a weekly basis, it ultimately was the acting that saved this series from being more of a cartoon than a drama.

This season's Spartacus: Gods of the Arena had to take a prequel direction because of health issues with Whitfield (God love him, but Starz has replaced him for next season). I thought that this might be a real stretch with last minute scrambling by the writers, but I was wrong. This season is sharply focused on Lentulus Batiatus (played perfectly by John Hannah) and his determination to get his fighters a prominent place in the arena. Of course, his path blocked by real scoundrels like Tullius, who is so despicable, he makes even the coarse and ruthless Batitatus seem sympathetic.

Plenty of twists and turns in this season and no character seems immune to misfortune. Ahh....humna nature. Hast thou changed?

Tullius: thy name means bastard.

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