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(Review originally written at 15 November 2007)

Well, honestly did you expected this made for TV-version to be better than the Stanley Kubrick 1960 movie starring Kirk Douglas? Fact is that for a TV-movie this one is about as good as they can get! It's a well made one that is also good looking. What a nice surprise this movie was!

I understand it needed to be sellable as a two part or more TV-movie, but that doesn't take away the fact that some of the sequences remain overlong. It also takes a whole for the movie to really start off. I understand the movie wanted to show a lot of gladiator moments, of course especially considering the success of "Gladiator", but nevertheless it takes longer then really necessary. Also toward the end the movie tends to be overlong in parts.

It's a well directed movie, that creates a nice balance between the action of the movie and the more personal dramatic and political aspects. Even though the movie is overlong at times, the movie still at all times remains a well paced one. Director Robert Dornhelm has lots of experience directing made for TV-movies and he has some good vision and obviously knows what he is doing. I'm interested at what he can do with more resources and a bigger budget.

The movie is definitely good looking and by no means cheap or clumsy, as you most likely would expect from a made for TV-movie about the story of Spartacus. OK the special effects to recreate large Roman cities obviously aren't the greatest but for instance it's no worse than in a "Rome"-episode. The movie has some surprisingly large and good looking battle sequences. Also the entire choreography of the sword-fighting is done in a great way. The movie also isn't afraid to show blood and violence, something TV-movies are normally reluctant to show.

Goran Visnjic was a surprising good choice for the main lead. He at first hand doesn't seem like the most logical or best choice but he handles the lead really well and is believable in the action sequences as well. The entire cast is filled with mostly TV-actors, but this by no means mean that the acting in this movie is below par. On the contrary really.

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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