Spartacus: Blood And Sand Review: Teenage Kicks

May 25, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND: Tuesday 25th May, Bravo, 10pm ALERT ME

If they made a serialised version of the movie 300 and added more gratuitous swearing and nudity than you can shake a sandal at, well it might look a little bit like this. Spartacus: Blood And Sand is one of the most bewildering programmes on TV because it’s somehow hypnotic; it’s like watching a car crash – bloody awful, but somehow you can’t quite bear yourself to turn away.

Agreeing to serve in the Roman Auxiliary Army under the condition that they march against the barbarian Gettae who are raiding their lands, the as yet unnamed Spartacus and his companions prepare for battle.

But when the Roman general Glaber turns his attention to the forces of Mithradates instead, Spartacus leads a mutiny which ends in him being captured for use in the gladiatorial arena and his wife sold into slavery.

Although the introduction is suitably gritty and features an exciting opening there’s a persistent worry that this could rapidly become a bloodier Xena. The appearance of Lucy Lawless halfway into the proceedings does nothing to dispel this illusion.

Andy Whitfield as Spartacus is easily the best thing about the show – he’s the only character that imbues his character with any life – everyone else delivers their lines in a monotone gruffness that seems mandatory for their roles, Strepsils not having been invented in those days.

Spartacus: B&S has an obsession with blood, sex and swearing which it seems to think will make it be taken more seriously as “adult?. But crucially what is missing here is any context or any sense of character development – Spartacus carves his way through dozens of men – hardly five minutes go by without someone getting an axe in the face, spraying the worst slow motion CGI blood effects since Ninja Assassin. Blood is a hard thing to fake with computer graphics and until it’s been perfected, film makers would be wise not to try.

Everyone but Spartacus has a potty mouth that would make even Ray Winstone baulk. Quite why this is necessary isn’t apparent; it’s not big or clever, simply juvenile – as if littering your speech with eff and cee words is going to do anything for your credibility; you can hear worse on the night bus home.

There’s also so much nudity on display, it’s as if Nuts Magazine had suddenly decided to get hold of the script and liberally sprinkle it with boobs. I’m no prude but it serves no purpose for the plot other than a bit of adolescent titillation. If I wanted that, I could spend an instructive hour or two on the internet.

However, there’s something so balls to the wall about it that’s almost admirable – you get the sense that the makers of Spartacus simply don’t care, they’re going to push the boat out as far as they can go and damn the torpedoes. They got the title wrong though, it’s not so much Spartacus: B&S but Spartacus: F*cking T&A.

Kess says:

I would agree the first few episodes are a bit slow and too focused on gratuitous sex and violence, but after that… wow!

Believe me, there is plenty of plot, intrigue and character development to come. There is still sex and violence but it’s incidental, just part of the background scenery of the Roman culture.

Spartacus is a great series and extremely gripping – once you get past the first few episodes.

angela says:

I take it by your review you haven’t seen anything else past the pilot?

Alexcar says:

I love how these reviewers try to make what they write catchy by blabbering on about how violent and sexual Spartacus is all the while knowing full well that the blood and sex is very much part of the story of roman life. Nice try.