Remote Patrol: Spartacus: Blood and Sand
Is this the future of action? Spartacus: Blood and Sand is rife with the same sort of CGI blood and guts that made Ninja Assassin look like a video game. If you thought such graphics were off-putting in that film, a B-movie that didn't take itself too seriously, they're even more obnoxious when they're ruining a drama that's quite riveting otherwise.
Imagine Gladiator with post-300 cinematography on a shoestring budget, and you'll come pretty close to Spartacus. From leading man Andy Whitfield on down, the actors do an impeccable job with material that ain't half bad.
Whitfield stars as the title character, a Thracian soldier betrayed by the Romans and forced to fight for his life in the Coliseum. He's at the center of a tale full of political intrigue, lusty passion and brutal violence.
But he doesn't have to carry the show; the pilot revealed lots of instantly magnetic characters (and as many F-bombs and naked bodies as you'd expect from a pay cable series). By the time that first hour wrapped up I was rapt at attention, wondering what would happen next. You can't ask for anything more from a story.
You can certainly demand better graphics, though. Combined with some atrocious green-screen shots, the CGI splatter makes this show feel campy when it should feel captivating. If you can shake that off, you can appreciate Spartacus, and maybe even love it.
"Spartacus: Blood and Sand"
Premieres 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, on Starz