Spartacus: Gods of the Area [Starz, Fridays, 10/9C] came about as a result of the unforeseen health issues of the star of Spartacus Blood and Sand. Conceived, partially, as a fill-in to keep the franchise alive while he recovered, and heeding the call of fans for some back-story on ludus owner Batiatus and his wife, Lucretia, series creator Steven S. DeKnight took a flashback that had been intended for season two of Blood and Sand and expanded it in a way that has yielded – at the very least – a premiere episode that matches the best of Blood and Sand’s first season.
Here’s the trailer for the Spartacus prequel, Gods of the Arena. The official series description and two cool behind-the-scenes videos, follow the jump.
What do you when your show has been picked up for a second season before the first one even airs and your star winds up with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma? If you’re the creative team behind Spartacus: Blood and Sand, you come up with a prequel that uses many of your other cast of characters.
If you like a bit of conniving, plotting and skulduggery with your sex and violence, then Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Starz, tonight, 10/9C] just may be the show for you. This very extreme new series is shot in the same manner as Zack Snyder’s epic 300 – apart from a few sets, and its props, the rest is CG. The result is a rich and gorgeous – if peculiarly colored – world.
The first two Mummy movies may not have been critical successes, but they did have an off-kilter charm that made them hits with the masses. As one member of those masses, I have to say that I did enjoy them, myself. So, why then, do I not care for the third instalment in the series?
Writer/director Stephen Sommers only produced this film. They recast Evelyn O’Connell – and Maria Bello ain’t Rachel Weisz, not by half. Luke Ford, who plays the O’Connell’s grown son, Alex, has the charisma of a box of Shreddies. Brendan Fraser, who threw himself into Journey to the Center of the Earth, seems to be going through the motions here. John Hannah’s exclamation, “I hate mummies! They never play fair!” is the height of the wit in this installment’s banter [you know you’re in trouble when Hannah has to force his dialogue…]. The action set pieces – and the CG, for that matter – have a been there/done that feel about them.
On the plus side of the ledger, we have Jet Li, whose energetic and charismatic villain might have been fun if he’d a script worthy of him; Michelle Yeoh, who manages to rise above the morass that is this film, as an immortal witch whose one true love was drawn and quartered by Li’s Dragon emperor, and Isabella Leong brings some badly needed spirit to the proceedings as Lin, the witch’s equally immortal daughter, who incomprehensibly develops a thing for Alex.
Despite director Rob Cohen’s best efforts, The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor galumphs along at a lacklustre pace for a would-be summer blockbuster. If it wasn’t for the performances by the key Asian actors, this would be a complete disaster. Thanks to them, there are enough bright spots to avoid an F.
Final Grade: D