Starz has graciously offered up the premiere episode of Spartacus: Vengeance early both online, and OnDemand, for fans and critics to see before the official premiere date of 1/27/12. I watched the episode last night, which is called “Fugitivus”, and it picks up a few weeks after the closing events of the first season of Spartacus. I can’t even begin to tell you how pumped I was to watch the return of Spartacus, and for the most part the premiere, which doesn’t include the original Spartacus (Andy Whitfield) anymore, paid off. Without a doubt the most glaring issue that long time fans of this franchise will have to deal with is the fact that the main character is being portrayed by a new actor. Outside of that, Vengeance is shaping up to be another bloody and fantastic affair that shouldn’t be missed by anyone who owns a pair of testicles and a c*ck!
Liam McIntyre could be the luckiest, and unluckiest actor of all-time due to his new role as Spartacus. I say this because he’s facing a tall order, which is to fulfill the high expectations of the Spartacus character first set forth by Andy Whitfield. There’s no doubt that long time fans such as myself will face issues seeing a new actor playing Sparty. Whitfield was absolutely brilliant in the role, and one of the main reasons that this franchise is so popular. Unfortunately the cancer got him and Starz needed to re-cast the role. They did a fine job by procuring the services of McIntyre, who really does bare some sort of a resemblance to Whitfield, but he’s always going to have to face scrutiny from the fans.
Close but no cigar
When I first saw the new Spartacus in “Fugitivus” I instantly felt like something just wasn’t right. His build isn’t as defined as Whitfield, and Liam has a very distinct nasally sounding voice, which is quite different than Whitfield’s. I’m a realist and know that he’ll never be able to replicate all of Andy’s nuances, but I will warn you that you may be slightly disappointed with the new Spartacus. Although, by the end of the first episode I definitely started warming up to McIntyre, and I think with time he’ll soon become the Spartacus we all know and love.
I honestly think I have issues with him replacing Andy because I literally just re-watched the first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand two weeks ago, so Whitfield’s performance is vivid in my mind. I would anticipate that fans who haven’t watched this show since it’s debut two years ago may not experience such a shock when they first see Liam as the Bringer of Rain. Andy just gave such a great performance, and had so many heart felt moments in season 1 that it will naturally take time to warm up to Liam’s portrayal of the character.
Outside of the new Spartacus issue everything else that you loved about this series is back and badder than ever. I noticed that the show’s creators have altered the overall visual style of the show for season 2. The color tones, camera work, and the overall feel of Spartacus now seem more similar to a movie than a cable series. I can’t exactly explain it, but you’ll see the difference if you’ve watched both seasons and the prequel from last year. Their seems to be even more “bullet time” effect used than before, and it serves the bloody action scenes quite well.
The stylized violence returns and it’s glorious
Speaking of bloody action scenes, they return in spades in the second season premiere of Spartacus: Vengeance. “Fugitivus” to my count had 3 major bloodbath scenes, and it’s just the opener to the season. The graphic violence is a thing of beauty, and it definitely helped me to get past the whole Liam as Spartacus issue that I mentioned above. I would love to sit in a writer’s meeting for this show to see how they decide on which fatalities to use in each episode. Some of the manners of death that befall the bad guys in this series will make you question the sanity of the writing team. Appendages get cleaved, eyes get stabbed, and one unlucky Roman gets a sword through his throat while he’s pleasuring himself to a gang bang taking place in a whore house! If that type of action doesn’t move you then you’re not a man!
In addition to the awe inspiring battles Spartacus: Vengeance’s premiere also confirmed that the tightly knit plot threads from the first season are still in tact. Sparty and Crixus are still uneasy partners, Glabber and his b*tch are steal dealing with the shame Spartacus brought to their family, and a brilliantly portrayed frazzled Lucretia returns to keep some remnants of the House of Batiatus alive. I truly think that Lucy Lawless will be the actor to watch this season, because she’s playing a very damaged Roman women who has all but lost her marbles. I very much enjoyed her scenes, and I’m glad the writers brought her back.
Keep your eye on Lucretia this season
When the credits rolled for “Fugitivus” I couldn’t help but feel slightly let down, but in the same light I also felt joy that this show was finally back on the air. For me the most glaring issue with this new season of Spartacus is the new Spartacus himself. It’s not a knock on Liam McIntyre as an actor, but rather a tribute to how moving Whitfield’s portrayal of the warrior slave really was. Without a doubt I believe time will prove that Liam is a fine Spartacus, but if you’ve recently watched the first season you will definitely find yourself comparing Liam to Andy throughout the entirety of the premiere. For this I give “Fugitivus” an EB 8 out of 10, and recommend both new and old fans to check it out as soon as possible.
You can always watch it online here, or you could check the OnDemand section on your cable box. If you don’t want to go that route you could always wait until the official release, which is this Friday at 10PM EST on Starz. You’ve been needing to get on this show’s bandwagon if you call yourself a man…
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