To the bitter end.
The tagline for the last chapter of the Starz Spartacus series describes the long, bloody journey that looms ahead for our titular gladiator as the dark, final season bows on Friday, Jan. 25. The premiere opens many months after Gaius Cludius Glaber was defeated, and the rebel army, led by Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) and his generals Crixus (Manu Bennett), Gannicus (Dustin Clare), and Agron (Dan Feuerriegel), continues to amass victories over Rome.
With the rebel numbers swelling to thousands of freed slaves, and Spartacus more determined than ever to bring down the entire Roman Republic, the horde becomes a force that challenges even the mighty armies of Rome. Together, the rebels engage in one bloody skirmish after another and prepare for the inevitable: a full out war. However, there is discord among the ranks of the rebels, and not everyone agrees on an important issue: are all slave owners evil? Should they all deserve to die?
The premiere, titled “Enemies of Rome,” opens with Spartacus as he continues to assemble a formidable army and outwit Rome’s finest commanders. The desperate powers of Rome are forced to turn to the wealthy and ambitious Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells) to aid in the campaign against the rebellion.
As we embark on another full season of all the blood, gore, and sex you’ve come to expect and love from the gladiator series, be prepared to meet some new – yet familiar – faces. Most important of them all is a young Julius Caesar (Todd Lasance) who is nothing like the man that history books have painted. He is young, poor, noble, and most importantly, unknown. Don’t expect to hear any utterance of “Et tu, Brutus?” anytime soon, as Caesar plays a much different role in this show. And speaking of expectations: if you thought Spartacus could not possibly get any more violent and gory... well, let's just say you haven't seen anything yet.
“Our take on this classic tale comes to an end with War of the Damned,” creator and executive producer Steven S. DeKnight says. “Yet I am confident that many more iterations of Spartacus shall follow in the years to come. It is a story worth telling and I am deeply honored to have had the opportunity to expose a new generation to it.”
Spartacus: War of the Damned premieres Friday, Jan. 25 at 9 PM ET/PT on Starz.
[Photo Credit: Starz]
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After being cursed by delays The Wolfman Hollywood’s latest spin on the popular werewolf myth finally bares its ugly fangs in theaters this week. Predictably the film is a train wreck of a debacle -- one would expect nothing less from a notoriously troubled production that saw its original director Mark Romanek abandon ship just two weeks before the start of shooting -- but The Wolfman’s problems stem less from the late-game addition of helmer Joe Johnston who at the very least delivered a terrific looking film (its gorgeously eerie Victorian aesthetic evoking a palpable exquisite sense of dread is by far its best feature) than from the misguided efforts of its producer and star Benicio Del Toro.
The Wolfman is the brainchild of Del Toro an ardent horror fan who conceived the film as an homage of sorts to the low-budget “monster movies” from the ‘30s and ‘40s that he loved dearly as a child. It’s fashioned as a loose remake of 1941’s The Wolf Man a film that both established Lon Chaney Jr.’s performance as the definitive take on the character and introduced aspects of the werewolf legend now considered sacrosanct. The notion that a werewolf can be felled by an item made from silver for example owes its origin to The Wolf Man.
But Del Toro feels all wrong in the role of Lawrence Talbot the prodigal son of a 19th-century English aristocrat whose fateful encounter with a bloodthirsty lycan the same creature that brutally murdered his brother just days prior triggers his unwitting initiation into the accursed tribe of feral man-beasts. Del Toro's resume of low-key understated performances marked by a muttering often imperceptible delivery in films like Traffic and The Usual Suspects suggests a skill set better suited to playing another famous movie monster one significantly less loquacious than his character in this movie. Seriously -- the guy should have remade Frankenstein instead.
Playing an American-bred (but English-born we’re told) character in an 1890 setting looking uncomfortable in period attire surrounded by such “proper” British actors as Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt and fully annunciating all of his line readings for the first time that I can recall Del Toro appears hopelessly out of place in The Wolfman.
Things only get worse unfortunately when Del Toro’s character transforms into the dreaded werewolf. Each time the moon is full the film transitions with increasing ridiculousness from a somber Victorian drama into a hard-core horror flick replete with grisly shots of torn flesh exposed spines and severed limbs. The first overly gruesome attack triggers a kind of nervous laugh more from the shock than anything else. The second invites an amused uneasy chuckle which soon snowballs into an outright belly laugh. And the effect soon spreads to the dialogue the outrageous gore rendering the film's mannered melodrama strangely hysterical.
Of all the Wolfman players only Hopkins seems to get the joke reveling in his manipulative mischief as Talbot's inappropriately glib stoutly aloof father. If only he'd let his castmates in on it.