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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spartacus: Blood and Boobs

I just episode one of Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

Well, what to say about that?

It makes 300 look subtle. It makes The Passion of the Christ look bloodless. And it has more boobs than you can count count. That last bit may not be strictly true. You probably could count the breasts on display, but it would take a sharp eye and strict attention to the task, which sort of takes the fun out of it.

That’s not all. You also get ridiculously bad acting, over-the-top writing, uproariously strange sex scenes, and some full frontal male nudity for the women. What you don’t get is compelling story-telling, interesting characters, or a moment’s respite from the overly stylized presentation.

I enjoyed 300,, but this takes the same ingredients and, somehow, screws up the recipe. I would say that the urge to oversell the comic book aspects of the violence, with explosions of blood consuming the screens, limbs flying willy-nilly, and even the smallest moments of violence given slow-motion treatment and imposing music. The sex scenes, well-short of the graphic nature of pornography but exhibiting the same skewed sense of fantasy sensuality, is just as off-putting as the stylized violence.

I suppose that’s a long winded way of saying that I thought that 300 stepped over the line of good story-telling and good taste in some of the same ways as Spartacus, but I still found something worth enjoying. This new Spartacus, on the other hand, left that line so far behind that all I could find was the urge to point and laugh when our hero’s wife fairly exploded into a wash of blood during the climax of one particularly strange dream sequence. I’m sure there’s something good about the show outside of its admirable commitment to gratuitous nudity; but, then, it fails even at that titillation when you realize that the writhing girls and simulated orgasms are an insult to anything remotely resembling real intimacy.

Don’t even get me started on the mismatched accents…

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