Spartacus - Blood and Sand

If you want something leaning more towards realism, then try the Rome series (seasons 1 and 2) but if you liked the effects of 300 then Spartacus: Blood and Sand is definitely going to be up your alley.

It took a little getting used to the comic book type blood splatters (and gushes) but I figure if you're going to show someone getting slashed or speared, why not go the whole hog? Gone are the days of the spaghetti western, where getting mortally wounded didn't look all that painful. Lets advertise that the use of weaponry (whether modern or antiquated) on the human body is no walk in the park. It bloody well hurts.

Special effects aside, this series, unlike the Spartacus version featuring Kirk Douglas, really focuses in on Spartacus's gladiatorial efforts. The plot ducks and weaves, pokes and prods (and there's a lot of that, and not just by weapons made of steel), and it really draws the viewer in to the politically charged and dangerous Roman society, during the late Republic era.

All throughout this first season I was expectantly waiting for the slave revolt. When was it going to happen? I won't spoil that for you, but it really does build the tension.

* I'm only joking about Australians being better actors than everyone else.

** the last 11 words from that sentence is a direct quote from the movie Muppets From Space

The Real Spartacus Story

Spartacus was a Thracian gladiator, who led a slave revolt in Italy that threatened the Roman republic. Enslaved by the Romans, he broke out of a gladiatorial school in Capua with about 70 other gladiators in 73 B.C. and succeeded in reaching the crater of Mt. Vesuvius. He was soon joined by other fugitives, and his large force defeated two Roman armies in 73 and devastated much of southern Italy.

In 72, Spartacus drove north, defeating three Roman armies on the way. His intention was to escape from Italy so his men could disperse to their homelands. The slaves, however, preferred to stay in Italy and plunder. Spartacus then led his forces south, where he was met in 71 by the army of Marcus Licinius Crassus.

Crassus failed to trap Spartacus in the "toe" of Italy but overtook him in Lucania. Spartacus was killed and thousands of slaves were crucified. An able, energetic, and apparently humane leader, Spartacus has been an inspiration to revolutionaries.

The Cast

Andy Whitfield handles the role of Spartacus quite brilliantly. I first noticed him in the lead role of the Australian made film Gabriel. If you're into independent films with quirky and unpredictable plot lines, check it out. Unfortunately Andy hasn't been well and the production of a second season has been put on hold.

Crixus, who Spartacus rubs the wrong way throughout the series, is played by Manu Bennett. A Newcastle lad. My wife knows him.

John Hannah (The Mummy trilogy) and Lucy Lawless (Xena and Battlestar Galactica) are probably the only two known stars and both serve their roles well. And quite different than anything they've done before.

Peter Mensah, who the only other role I've seen him in is the small, yet pivotal role of the 'Persian messenger' in 300. He's the one who gets a face full of Sparta Madness shouted at him and a gut full of Gerard Butler foot when he gets kicked into the pit when he didn't choose his words wisely. In the role of Doctore you can't be sure where his allegiances will finally swing.

The rest of the roles are well cast and believable. And the odd smattering of Aussie and Kiwi accents can be heard. But then again when has Hollywood ever made an effort to disguise an American accent in a historical epic? Or the fall back being that an upper class British accent makes for a more believable sounding Roman.

It's going to be a series that you will either love or hate. And there's a lot to deal with before you get to love it. But for me it was one of the most exciting bits of escapism to hit the small screen. And Australian audiences would do well to buy the DVD set from Amazon because there was a lot of gratuitous nudity and violence cut from each episode to allow it to be played during prime time.

Spartacus Drinking Game

Any time one of the following words are uttered on screen:

  • gratitude
  • absence
  • apologies
  • break word/s
  • mistake intent
  • cross purpose

...then have a drink!

But make sure you don't drink and drive even after watching half an episode.

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Comments 20 comments

frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 6 years ago

Great review and definitely left me with a whetted appetite to view the series. Do you know whether it's syndicated? Having enjoyed 300, read a wealth of books on ancient civilisations, I'm a sure bet for rating the series up - providing I get to watch it :)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Thanks to this masterful and suspenseful introduction, darkside, I am looking forward to watching this intriguing though bloody series on TV. Thanks for the heads-up.

BTW, guess I'll have to see 'Muppets in Space,' too, to catch the drift of that strange quote.

ghomefitness profile image

ghomefitness 6 years ago from Chicago,IL

It was one of my favorite shows. I believe they are advertising the new season and it has different characters.

darkside profile image

darkside 6 years ago from Australia Author

There is a prequel (Spartacus: Gods of the Arena) that has been shot. Lucy Lawless, John Hannah, Manu Bennett and Peter Mensah are all in it, but Andy Whitfield will only make a brief appearance. It's a six episode season and airs in the US and the UK late January 2011. So perhaps Blood and Sand has already shown on UK TV?

Dustin Clare (another Aussie actor) plays the central character of the gladiator Gannicus.

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

Well you sold me. I am looking forward to seeing the series. Also pretty funny, actually quite funny thanks to the 11 words taken from the muppets. LOL

ghomefitness profile image

ghomefitness 6 years ago from Chicago,IL

That is what they are advertising, thanks for the info.

mega1 profile image

mega1 6 years ago

what? Spartacus without his women? oooh. so depressed I am!

good selling hub for the show, which, I believe, we have yet to pass our censor board too! or something. You're the only one I've seen talking about it anyhow.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Truthfully I haven't seen a gladiator type film since Ben Hur.maybe I should catch up

darkside profile image

darkside 6 years ago from Australia Author

When I was a kid I love Ben Hur, The 300 Spartans and anything of that era and from the golden years of Hollywood. So when Gladiator came out I was happy as a pig in mud.

kesinee profile image

kesinee 6 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

@darkside I like the 300 Spartans and Gladiator as well. I'm not sure whether this series will boardcast in my country or not but I think I can watch it on a cable TV. Nice review!!

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for the introduction and it sounds fascinating. Will be looking out for it.

satomko profile image

satomko 6 years ago from Macon, GA

Good review. I was wondering how this compared to HBO's series Rome.

darkside profile image

darkside 6 years ago from Australia Author

Totally different feel between the two. If you go into this series hoping or expecting HBO's Rome you'll be disappointed. But if you liked the comic book like effects of 300 you should get along well with this interpretation.

darkside profile image

darkside 6 years ago from Australia Author

Aussie actor Liam McIntyre has been cast in the role of Spartacus vacated by Andy Whitfield.

A bit of stubble on Liam's chin and cheeks and I don't think many will notice the difference.

saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 5 years ago

I am intrigued by any movie that has hand to hand combat. My soul screams at me from time to time from the past, somehow I feel that my past life was a fighter, warrior of some kind.

It's sad to see all the young men and woman who go off to present day wars to never actually see combat but be affected by it and many get killed by a roadside bombing.

I would prefer hand to hand and living and dying by the sword back in ancient days. Thank you for this share, I really enjoyed Kirk Douglas and Russel Crowe as Spartcus characters.

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Brilliant !!

Billy Hicks profile image

Billy Hicks 5 years ago

I missed "Blood and Sand" when it was on here in the US, I didn't start watching until "Gods of the Arena", but having seen that first, I ordered the first season of Spartacus immediately.

For the "GotA" fans, am I crazy, or does that look like Gannicus in the promo for season 2 of "BaS".

socialeye profile image

socialeye 3 years ago

Nice brilliant !

SusannaDuffy profile image

SusannaDuffy 2 years ago from Melbourne Australia

I'm afraid that the blood spatters on the camera lens became a little ho-hum after a while and I became weary of the whole movie. You know, I prefer Kirk Douglas in this role (even if he's not Australian)

naecrix profile image

naecrix 22 months ago

This is the best tv show that was ever made! I rewatched it many times and it always brings huge emotions.

The actors are just amazing and did a fantastic job!

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