REVIEW: REIGN – SEASON 4

Megan Follows, Rachel Skarsten, and Adelaide Kane in Reign (2013)

Starring

Adelaide Kane (Power Rangers RPM)
Megan Follows (October Faction)
Rachel Skarsten (Batwoman)
Toby Regbo (The Last Kingdom)
Celina Sinden (The Retreat)
Craig Parker (Spartacus)
Rose Williams (Sanditon)
Jonathan Keltz (21 & Over)
Ben Geurens (Legacies)
Dan Jeannotte (Red 2)
Jonathan Goad (Alias Grace)
Spencer Macpherson (Northern Rescue)
Will Kemp (The Scorpion King 4)

Adelaide Kane and Celina Sinden in Reign (2013)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Anastasia Phillips (Bomb Girls)
Nola Augustson (A Deadly View)
Sara Garcia (True Fiction)
Claire Hunter (World Away)
Steve Lund (Bitten)
Ted Dykstra (Orphan Black)
Michael Therriault (Heroes Reborn)
Adam Croasdell (Preacher)
Ann Pirvu (Remedy)
Andrew Shaver (Arrival)
Megan Hutchings (In Contempt)
Steve Byers (Shadowhunters)
John Ralston (Bitten)
Nick Slater (Neighbours)

Adelaide Kane and Dan Jeannotte in Reign (2013)From CBS Television Studios and Whizbang Films/Take 5 Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, comes Reign‘s fourth and final season – a season which brought the story of Queen Mary of Scots’ life to a close with an unforgettable finale which capped off a season that left us wanting more and managed to deliver its strongest season yet.Adelaide Kane and Dan Jeannotte in Reign (2013)“It’s been an incredible four season run for Reign,” said Rosemary Markson, WBHE Senior Vice President, Television Marketing. “The fan base of The CW’s beloved costume drama is both passionate and loyal, and they’re going to love this final installment to complete their Reign collection.”Adelaide Kane and Celina Sinden in Reign (2013)Season four of Reign finds Mary rising to the challenge, taking back her country and establishing her rule in Scotland, the land of her birth but a wild nation foreign to her, and now, once again, her home. Even as our canvas expands to welcome a new court in Scotland with new players, including Mary’s half-brother James, and the men who vie for her hand, the French Court grows as well,” Warner Bros. teases of the fourth and final season of Reign. “Catherine gave France many heirs – too many, as it turns out. We will meet more of her brood, who are amusingly and dangerously at each other’s throats. Our queens will make wise choices and knowingly brutal sacrifices; their fates, especially Mary’s and Elizabeth’s, are not only intertwined but increasingly inescapable. It is a season of impossibly high stakes, unexpected betrayals, sexual exploits, a royal wedding, a royal birth and a rising body count as three queens in three nations fight for their people, their loves, and their lives.Adelaide Kane and Celina Sinden in Reign (2013)Luckily for Warner Bros. The episodes were among the strongest in years. In watching the show’s fourth season I suddenly found my love for the show being reignited and with each passing episode I couldn’t believe that Season 4 would be the show’s last as each episode left me on the edge of my seat and anxiously awaiting the next.Ben Geurens and Adelaide Kane in Reign (2013)Season 4 helped to remind me why I first fell in love with the show and made saying goodbye even more difficult as a result.

 

REVIEW: REIGN – SEASON 3

 

Starring

Adelaide Kane (Power Rangers RPM)
Megan Follows (October Faction)
Rachel Skarsten (Batwoman)
Torrance Coombs (The Originals)
Toby Regbo (The Last Kingdom)
Celina Sinden (The Retreat)
Anna Popplewell (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Jonathan Keltz (21 & Over)
Craig Parker (Spartacus)
Rose Williams (Sanditon)
Charlie Carrick (Deep Water)
Ben Geurens (Legacies)

Anna Popplewell, Toby Regbo, Adelaide Kane, Torrance Coombs, and Celina Sinden in Reign (2013)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Alexandra Ordolis (Nurses)
Clara Pasieka (Impulse)
Tom Everett Scott (13 Reasons Why)
Spencer Macpherson (Northern Rescue)
Nick Lee (The Fall)
Christopher Russell (Van Helsing)
Cristina Rosato (Bad Santa 2)
Andrew Jackson (Sea Wolf)
Ben Aldridge (Pennyworth)
Amy Brenneman (88 Minutes)
Ted Whittall (Suicide Squad)
Mark Ghanimé (Private Eyes)
Giles Panton (The Man In The High Castle)
Blair Williams (American Psycho)
Richard de Klerk (Motive)
Lyla Porter-Follows (Frontier)
Christopher Jacot (Eureka)
Michael Therriault (Heroes Reborn)
Siobhan Murphy (Merry Happy Whatever)
Krystin Pellerin (Republic of Doyle)
Colleen Winton (Van Helsing)
Rossif Sutherland (The Con Artist)
Patrick Garrow (Robocop)
Christopher Russell (Flashpoint)
John Barrowman (Arrow)
Jonathan Goad (Alias Grace)
Adam Kenneth Wilson (Alien Mysteries)
Dan Jeannotte (Red 2)

Rachel Skarsten in Reign (2013)Mary (Adelaide Kane) has found herself reborn now that she and Francis (Toby Regbo) have decided to leave the past behind them and move forward again as one loving and happy team. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all problems have been solved, as Catherine (Megan Follows) is currently aiding the English queen Elizabeth (Rachel Skarsten) to conquer Scotland, thus taking away Mary’s power. This new alliance doesn’t really last that long, seeing Catherine ends up in the dungeons at French court rather quickly when she resurfaces on French soil.Megan Follows in Reign (2013)Even though everything seems to be heading towards the right direction for the beloved royal couple, Francis is still ill, and it seems he has an incurable disease, thus his time left on this Earth is quite limited. Not wanting to give up, Mary looks for remedies or healers who might be able to help her beloved husband. Meanwhile Catherine is still trying to influence people from the depths of the dungeons. Nonetheless, Narcisse (Craig Parker) decides to finally make his move on Lola (Anna Popplewell) now that Catherine is out of the picture. Even though Narcisse had a thing for Lola in the past, he went for ‘pleasuring’ Catherine, in order to profit from her power, as he was stripped of his by Francis due to his dubious practices.Toby Regbo and Adelaide Kane in Reign (2013)All of this goes accompanied by the hunt for a murderer who has killed countless people, forcing Bash (Torrance Coombs) to request the aid of Delphine (Alexandra Ordolis) who has strange powers. Finding Delphine might prove difficult, as she is currently being hunted because people think she’s a witch and a murderer.The flow of this season is rather fast and chaotic, as there were four episodes less to wrap up the season, compared to the first two seasons of the show. Nonetheless, this quicker flow is quite likeable, as there is more suspense, a lot more events going on, which boosts the series, which was not bad for the most part, but sometimes a bit too slow and dull. Even though it’s clear that this season revolves around Mary and the problems in Scotland, the ‘side stories’ are all tied together with the main plot, and they prove to be extremely exciting. Overall these eighteen episodes feel more brutal, more adult and simply a lot more interesting. One thing proves to be an issue though, as this season suffers from the same problem that pestered The Vampire Diaries at a certain time, where sex seemed to be a lot more important than story value.Toby Regbo and Adelaide Kane in Reign (2013)Acting performances remain constant in comparison with the previous seasons, as there haven’t been any significant changes cast wise. Only Rachel Skarsten is getting a lot more screen time this season, and she plays out her role as queen Elizabeth quite admirably. She does a great job in portraying a whimsical, ruthless and determined character. Craig Parker, who plays Narcisse, also becomes a lot more relevant again, as he is gaining more and more power again, perhaps even more than he originally had. Of course, the rest of the cast still provides very entertaining performances.Toby Regbo and Adelaide Kane in Reign (2013)Reign: Season 3 takes a pinch of what made Season 2 slightly better than the first one, and shows that series can become better over time, rather than lose its momentum. You’ll be treated to a lot of interesting relations, many bloody battles, murderers, the occult and of course, a beautiful lead actress who knows what she is doing. The only setback of this last release is the fact that is comes with no extra features. Nonetheless, if you loved the previous seasons, this one will not disappoint.

REVIEW: REIGN – SEASON 2

Adelaide Kane in Reign (2013)

Starring

Adelaide Kane (Power Rangers RPM)
Megan Follows (October Faction)
Torrance Coombs (The Originals)
Toby Regbo (The Last Kingdom)
Celina Sinden (The Retreat)
Caitlin Stasey (I, Frankenstein)
Anna Popplewell (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Jonathan Keltz (21 & Over)
Sean Teale (The Gifted)
Craig Parker (Spartacus)
Rose Williams (Sanditon)

Adelaide Kane in Reign (2013)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Rossif Sutherland (Haven)
Michael Therriault (Heroes Reborn)
Sarah Winter (Versailles)
Camille Stopps (Guilt Free Zone)
Nicole de Boer (Cube)
Jane Spidell (Robocop: The Series)
Noam Jenkins (Earth: Final Conflict)
Ben Lewis (Arrow)
Kate Ross (October Faction)
Sergio Di Zio (Flashpoint)
Ava Preston (Critters Attack!)
James Downing (Cardinal)
Ben Aldridge (Pennyworth)
Tori Anderson (Blindspot)
Anna Walton (Hellboy II)
Rachel Wilson (Impulse)
Linzee Barclay (Lost Girl)
Amy Brenneman (88 Minutes)
Alan van Sprang (Star Trek: Discovery)
Alexandra Ordolis (Nurses)
Siobhan Williams (Deadly Class)
Rob Stewart (Painkiller Jane)
Katie Boland (Long Story, Short)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Meghan Heffern (Chloe)
Rachel Skarsten (Batwoman)

Sean Teale in Reign (2013)While the first season of Reign provided us with an entertaining experience, we were never truly blown away by the series’ plot, mainly due to the fact that the fiction portion of the series was lacking in originality and overall likeability, the the second season looked a lot more promising. Once again we visit the beautiful sets and costumes, and now that King Henry II is disposed of, the series takes a liking for the occult and the supernatural. It seems Mary and Francis will not have such a happy time as husband and wife just yet.Craig Parker, Anna Popplewell, and Camille Stopps in Reign (2013)This second season handles many separate plots, but the main theme is pretty much the conflicts between France’s Catholic inhabitants and the Protestant ones, with the latter simply wanting to practice their faith without being prosecuted or mistreated. Nonetheless, before these troubles arise, the second season picks up where the first season ended, namely with an outbreak of the plague, which has the entire castle on lockdown. Nonetheless, Francis (Toby Regbo) rides out to find Lola (Anna Popplewell) who has given birth to his illegitimate son. Even though this might be a sore spot for Mary (Adelaide Kane), she truly wants Francis to be happy and play a part in his son’s life. She even allows him to claim the son as his own, making sure it will not be shunned by others and by doing so, ensuring its future as a proper lord.Adelaide Kane in Reign (2013)After the plague has passed, new problems arise with one of the most influential lords of France, Narcisse (Craig Parker), as he is causing uproars because he isn’t delivering grain to the people. This of course has to do with the fact that Mary killed his son by throwing him into a dungeon with infected people, after he demanded the king and queen to kill someone who also possessed a great deal of power. When the royal couple refused, he killed the man himself, and his family by using poison. This infuriated Mary and by this, Narcisse’s son forfeited his life by invoking the queen’s wrath. After this, Narcisse’s countermeasures, of withholding food for the general populace, are the cause of many bloodshed. Sadly, Mary and Francis can’t simply dispose of this lord because of the power he has and the secret he learns of the king.Mary, Lola and Estelle in Reign, The Lamb and the SlaughterAll this occurs while Catherine (Megan Follows) starts to see ghosts, princess Claude (Rose Williams) returns to court and lord Condé (Sean Teale), who is from a noble family that also has the right to claim France’s throne, grows closer to Mary. The latter is also one of the main storylines that occurs in this season. Acting performances are on par with the first season, which means that everyone puts down a rather convincing experience. It has to be said that the three main newcomers put down exquisite performances, with Craig Parker in the lead, closely followed by Sean Teale and Rose Williams. These actors brings their characters to life and add a sorely needed extra to Reign.Megan Follows and Adelaide Kane in Reign (2013)Last time we discussed the ‘modern’ vibe that came off this series, which was not always that well suited for the timeframe Reign situates itself around. Nonetheless, during this season it bothered us a lot less, perhaps because we knew what to expect, or simply because it works quite well for the topic(s) of this second season. Only one thing remains that hampers the entire experience, namely that everybody is pretty much fucking everyone, making this quite unrealistic, especially considering if a woman did this during this time period it would mean certain death. Sometimes this series feels like it can only end if the leading actresses have screwed entire France.

 

REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – SEASON 5

Ming-Na Wen, Henry Simmons, Clark Gregg, Iain De Caestecker, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Chloe Bennet, and Elizabeth Henstridge in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)

Starring

Clark Gregg (Captain Marvel)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate: Universe)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Iain De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)
Henry Simmons (Taxi)
Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Bates Motel)

Jeff Ward in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jeff Ward (Plus One)
Joel Stoffer (Death Ring)
Eve Harlow (Heroes Reborn)
Dominic Rains (Jinn)
Florence Faivre (The Expanse)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (13 Sins)
Nathin Butler (Black November)
Coy Stewart (Devil’s Whisper)
Catherine Dent (21 Grams)
Lola Glaudini (That Awkward Moment)
Dove Cameron (Descendants)
Brian Patrick Wade (The Big Bang Theory)
Briana Venskus (Let’s be Cops)
Maximilian Osinski (In Time)
Spencer Treat Clark (Glass)
Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Nick Blood (Trollied)
J. August Richards (Angel)
Zach McGowan (The Scorpion King 5)
Reed Diamond (Bones)
Ruth Negga (Preacher)
David Conrad (Roswell)
Derek Mears (Swamp Thing)
Rya Kihlstedt (Home Alone 3)
Patrick Fabian (Better, Call Saul)
Willow Hale (The Ones)
Joel David Moore (Julia X)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
Jake Busey (Starship Troopers)
Alyssa Jirrels (Alexa & Katie)
Gabriel Hogan (Heartland)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Raquel Gardner (The Boy Next Door)

Dominic Rains and Elizabeth Henstridge in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has done the impossible. It went from one of the most throwaway action dramas in recent history with season one to one of the most memorable. Over the course of five long years, the series has re-invented itself, and slowly forged a capable band of misfits that are worth watching week after week.Henry Simmons, Clark Gregg, Eve Harlow, and Michelle Toh in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)It was somewhere around season three that I started truly enjoying the show, and by the time the artificial intelligence-driven LMD arc hit in 2017, I was hooked. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the power to do what basically no Marvel film (with few exceptions) has done to date: make us laugh and cry in the same short span. Clark Gregg, S.H.I.E.L.D. star Agent Coulson always said that people should give the show time to grow, and while I’d argue four years is far too long of a wait, it’s worth investing in at this point. Season five mostly carries that legacy upon its back with a few missteps.Rya Kihlstedt and Dominic Rains in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)While I’ve grown fond of S.H.I.E.L.D. it’s very easy to poke Swiss cheese-sized holes into it. The writers still don’t seem to know how to handle Yo-Yo, the Inhuman that can run so fast that it seemingly stops time, only to return to her original location. They created a figurative monster, one that could basically end every conflict before it starts, and they’ve had to come up with weird ways to curb her power, some of which are incredibly hokey. They’re also constantly wandering aimlessly with her character arc, putting much of the burden of her budding personality onto her partner, Mack — one of the brightest parts of the show.Florence Faivre in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)The lack of John Hannah and Mallory Jansen, two of the strongest parts of last season, is felt, but others, whether it’s newcomers or old friends like Adrian Pasdar, have stepped up. Really though, the trophies should go to the principal cast, who are stuck together like a family for this long despite being on the bubble every year. Ming-Na Wen is one of the most underrated action performers on TV right now, and Chloe Bennet managed to transform Skye into the formidable Daisy mostly on her own, evolving and learning alongside of the show with charisma and relatable flaws to boot.Ming-Na Wen, Clark Gregg, and Willow Hale in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)I miss the smaller focused arcs of the past few seasons, but this year S.H.I.E.L.D. has mostly settled on two acts: the future, and a lead into Infinity War. The former was a very bold and tricky maneuver, and I think they pulled it off. For a while, there S.H.I.E.L.D. pivoted into a bleak sci-fi operation, more so than it ever has been in the past, with some of its darkest sections to date.Ming-Na Wen and Clark Gregg in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)The thing about the future portion of this season is that you never really know what’s going to happen. Coupled with an ominous theme bad things were always piling onto the crew, to the point where you really felt that they had no chance of making it out alive. By the end of it, when most of them do, it feels like their actions still have weight to them, something that was wonderfully communicated in the previous season. It’s not so much cheesy callbacks as it is genuine character development, as the team works to make this pseudo-MCU world one worth exploring. It’s also nice to see Marvel throw S.H.I.E.L.D. a bone, giving them at least one worthy villain and the entire Kree race to work with.Ming-Na Wen, Clark Gregg, and Chloe Bennet in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)Its second act isn’t nearly as strong, sometimes focusing far too much on Hydra (a concept that’s been touched on nearly every season now to mixed success), it eventually culminates in a worthwhile showdown with one of the most formidable foes yet with actual consequences. Is S.H.I.E.L.D., or the Marvel universe completely done with Hydra? Probably not, but for now it seems like new problems are on the horizon.Dove Cameron in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)Ultimately, season five of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ends with at least one twist and several turns. It’s beautifully filmed as a series finale just in case they didn’t get that one last renewal (which they recently did), and despite the truncated action scenes that still show how little of a priority S.H.I.E.L.D. is for ABC, it more than gets the job done for a network TV show.

REVIEW: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

 

CAST

Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)
Liv Tyler (Super)
Cate Blanchett (Babel)
John Rhys-Davies (Beyond The Mask)
Billy Boyd (Seed of Chucky)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Bernard Hill (True Crime)
Orlando Bloom (Kingdom of Heaven)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars Episode II & III)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Miranda Otto (I, Frankenstein)
David Wenham (Van Helsing)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Andy Serkis (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Ian Holm (Alien)
Marton Csokas (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Bruce Spence (Mad Max 2)
Bruce Hopkins (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Ian Hughes (Hercules: TLJ)
Bruce Phillips (Power Rangers RPM)
Joel Tobeck (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Stephen Ure (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Jed Brophy (The Hobbit)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Allistair Browning (Hercules: TLJ)
Paul Norell (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)

Gandalf leads Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and King Théoden to Isengard where they reunite with Merry and Pippin. With Saruman defeated, Gandalf retrieves Saruman’s palantír. Overcome by curiosity, Pippin steals a glance into the seeing-stone, and suffers a mental attack from Sauron himself. Gandalf deduces that Sauron will attack Gondor’s capital Minas Tirith, so he rides there to warn them, taking Pippin with him because Sauron thinks Pippin is the ring bearer.Meanwhile, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee are led by Gollum to Minas Morgul where they witness the Witch-king of Angmar leading an Orc army to drive Denethor’s younger son Faramir and his men from Osgiliath. At Gollum’s urging, the three begin climbing a precarious stair carved in the cliff face that will take them into Mordor via a ‘secret way’. But having overheard Gollum’s plot to regain the Ring, Sam keeps a suspicious eye on him. In Gondor, Pippin follows Gandalf’s instructions and secretly lights the beacon to signal Théoden to assemble the Rohirrim and come to Gondor’s aid.While helping Théoden gather his forces, Aragorn is approached by Elrond who says Arwen is dying. After seeing a vision of her son she refused to leave Middle Earth. Elrond then gives Aragorn the sword Andúril, Isildur’s sword Narsil reforged, so he can reclaim his birthright while gaining reinforcements from the Dead Men of Dunharrow. Joined by Legolas and Gimli, Aragorn travels to the Paths of the Dead, recruiting the Army of the Dead with the promise to release them from their curse once they fulfil their oath to Isildur.Faramir is gravely wounded after a futile effort to retake Osgiliath, and believing his son to be dead, Denethor falls into madness. Gandalf is left to command the city defences against the Orc army led by Gothmog. But as Gothmog’s forces eventually force their way into the city, Denethor tries to kill himself and Faramir on a pyre. Pippin alerts Gandalf and they save Faramir, but Denethor leaps to his death from the top of Minas Tirith just before Théoden and the Rohirrim arrive. Initially the Rohirrim have the advantage at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, but are eventually overwhelmed by the Oliphaunt-riding Haradrim while the Witch-king mortally wounds Théoden. Though Théoden’s niece Éowyn, having posed as a male soldier, battles and slays the Witch-King with Merry’s help, Théoden dies of his wounds. Aragorn arrives with the Army of the Dead, they overcome the Orcs and win the battle. The Dead are released from their curse, and the wounded are tended to. Aragorn and the other captains of Men decide to lead all who can march upon the Black Gate as a distraction, so Frodo and Sam can get to Mount Doom.Meanwhile, Gollum manipulates Frodo into leaving Sam behind before they arrive at the tunnel leading to Mordor, and then tricks him into lair of the giant spider Shelob, who paralyses and binds Frodo. Sam arrives and drives Shelob away, but believing his friend to be dead takes Frodo’s sword Sting and The One Ring for safekeeping. When he sees Frodo’s body being taken by Orcs to Cirith Ungol he realises that Frodo is still alive, and gives chase. Sam rescues Frodo from the Orcs, and returns the Ring to him.Aragorn’s army draw out Sauron’s forces and empty Mordor, allowing the exhausted Hobbits to stagger to the volcano, but they’re attacked by Gollum when they reach Mount Doom. Frodo finally succumbs to the Ring’s power and claims it as his own, and refuses to destroy it. Gollum attacks Frodo and bites his finger off to reclaim the Ring, but Frodo fights back and knocks Gollum, who is holding the Ring, into the volcano. While Frodo holds onto the ledge for dear life, Sam manages to save him and both escape the volcano at the last second. The Ring and Sauron are both destroyed, causing a chain-reaction that consumes the mountain, topples Barad-dûr, and kills most of the fleeing Orcs as the ground crumbles beneath them. Gandalf flies in with eagles to rescue the Hobbits, who awaken later in Minas Tirith and are reunited with the surviving Fellowship members.Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor and takes Arwen as his queen. They, and all others present at his coronation, bow before Frodo and the Hobbits. The Hobbits then return to the Shire where Sam marries Rosie Cotton. Frodo, while happy for his friends, is unable to cope with the traumas of his journey, and departs Middle Earth for the Grey Havens with his uncle Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Elves. He leaves Sam the Red Book of Westmarch which details their adventures. Though saddened by Frodo’s departure, Sam is gladdened by the warm welcome he receives upon returning home.

This is one of the best series of all time, Fellowship Of The Ring still nicks it as my fave of the three movies if I was pushed to choose. You can’t really detract from what Peter Jackson has achieved with this film, Tolkien himself gave the film rights away for practically nothing, deeming the book impossible to translate to film. Peter Jackson proved him wrong and we now have a great trilogy of films that will stand the test of time.

REVIEW: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS

LORD OF THE RINGS 3

CAST

Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)
Liv Tyler (Super)
Cate Blanchett (Babel)
John Rhys-Davies (Beyond The Mask)
Billy Boyd (Seed of Chucky)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Bernard Hill (True Crime)
Orlando Bloom (Kingdom of Heaven)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars Episode II & III)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Miranda Otto (I, Frankenstein)
David Wenham (Van Helsing)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Andy Serkis (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Craig Parker (Reign)
John Leigh (Power Rangers Samurai)
Bruce Hopkins (Xena: Warrior Princess)
John Bach (Spartacus)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Stephen Ure (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Paul Norell (Young Hercules)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Nathaniel Lees (Young Hercules)
Robbie Magasiva (wentworth)
Robyn Malcolm (The Outpost)
Bruce Phillips (Power Rangers Dino Charge)
Olivia Tennet (Power Rangers RPM)
Owen Black (Maddigan’s Quest)
Alistair Browning (Hercules: TLJ)

Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee continue their journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring by throwing it into Mount Doom. They are attacked in the night by Gollum, former owner of the Ring, but they capture him. Sympathising with Gollum for their shared burden, Frodo asks Gollum to lead them safely to Mordor, despite Sam’s objections. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pursue the Uruk-hai who kidnapped their friends Merry and Pippin. The Uruk-hai are slaughtered by the Rohirrim army of Rohan, but the two Hobbits escape into Fangorn Forest where they meet the Ent Treebeard. Aragorn’s group later meet the Rohirrim who have been banished by their king Théoden, who is manipulated by Saruman’s servant Grima Wormtongue. Tracking the Hobbits in Fangorn, Aragorn’s group encounter a resurrected Gandalf who perished in Moria, but was revived to help save Middle-earth.Gollum leads Frodo and Sam through the Dead Marshes whilst evading the Nazgûl. They reach the Black Gate to Mordor but Gollum stops them, saying it’s too risky and that there is another entrance, finding himself becoming loyal to Frodo for his kindness. The trio later are captured by the Rangers of Ithilien, led by Faramir, brother of the late Boromir. When Faramir discovers Frodo has the Ring, he intends on taking him to Gondor, capturing Gollum when Frodo exposes him. Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, and Gimli travel to Rohan’s capital Edoras where Gandalf releases Théoden from Saruman’s power and Wormtongue is banished. Learning Saruman plans on wiping out Rohan with an army of Uruk-hai, Théoden decides to move his citizens to the protection of Helm’s Deep, but Gandalf departs to find the Rohirrim led by Théoden’s nephew Éomer. Aragorn strikes up a friendship with Théoden’s niece Éowyn who quickly falls in love with him. During a Warg attack, Aragorn falls off a cliff into a river, but is found by his horse and taken to Helm’s Deep.In Fangorn, Merry and Pippin attend an Ent council but learn Treebeard and the others will not participate in the war. They convince them otherwise when they show the destruction Saruman has unleashed on the forests around Isengard. The Ents storm Isengard and imprison Saruman in his tower. The Uruk-hai army arrive at Helm’s Deep, finding a makeshift army of peasants and Elves from Rivendell waiting for them. A great battle follows with Théoden losing hope until Aragorn convinces him to ride out and meet them. Gandalf and the Rohirrim arrive, turning the tide of the battle and destroying the Uruk-hai.Frodo, Sam, and Gollum are taken to the fallen Gondor city Osgiliath but they are attacked by the Nazgûl and Mordor army. Sam informs Faramir of how the Ring nearly drove Boromir mad, stunning Faramir. Frodo is nearly captured by the Nazgûl but Sam tackles him down a flight of stairs, saving him. After the attack ends, Faramir frees the trio and sends them on their way. Gollum, hurt by Frodo’s seeming betrayal, decides to reclaim the Ring by leading Frodo and Sam to a creature he refers to as “her”, leading them away towards Mordor.The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Version might rasie a few eyebrows when one sees how long the extented version is, however the extra 40 minutes added to the theatrical cut actually make the ‘The Two Towers’ a better film to enjoy as a lord of the rings and/or film fan. The extra footage, adds depth and suspense to the story, which makes it more gripping, particularly during some of the extended scenes during the battle of Helm’s Deep. There is more character evolution, which gives one a more indepth view of the more mystical sides of the main characters (their backgrounds and their power), particularly Aragon and Gandalf.Furthermore, the extended material gives a larger role to Merry and Pippin, to which many hardcore lord of the rings fans is a great boost to the story. They are a greater aspect of the story and unlike in the theatrical cut, don’t just sit in a tree all the film.What I enjoyed most however, was the realism of the film that the extented edition gave to Tolkein’s writings, though true some aspects were not entirly accurate to the The Two Towers book, the extended editon gave one the feeling more that they were in Middle-Earth, than the theatrical cut.The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Version is an ideal viewing for any lord of the rings fan, but furthermore, it is a great epic to watch of any person, even those who saw the theatrical cut, before reading the book.

REVIEW: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS

CAST

Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)
Liv Tyler (Super)
Cate Blanchett (Babel)
John Rhys-Davies (Beyond The Mask)
Billy Boyd (Seed of Chucky)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Orlando Bloom (Kingdom of Heaven)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars Episode II & III)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Andy Serkis (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Ian Holm (Alien)
Peter Daube (Hercules: TLJ)
Marton Csokas (Alice In Wonderland)
David Weatherley (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Mark Ferguson (Hercules In The Underworld)
Lori Dungey (Hercules: TLJ)

In the Second Age of Middle-earth, the Dark Lord Sauron forges the One Ring in Mount Doom to conquer all, abandoning a great part of his power to it in order to dominate, through it, at a distance, the other Rings of Power, which had been granted to lords of Elves, Dwarves and Men. An army of men and elves battle Sauron’s forces in Mordor, where Prince Isildur of Gondor cuts the One Ring off of Sauron’s finger, thereby temporarily destroying his physical shape, and decides to take care of the Ring himself, but the evil influence of the Ring corrupts Isildur, preventing him from destroying it in Mount Doom. Isildur is later killed by Orcs, and the Ring is lost for 2,500 years, found and owned by Gollum for five centuries. The Ring is then found by a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins.Sixty years on, Bilbo celebrates his 111th birthday in the Shire, reuniting with his old friend Gandalf the Grey. Bilbo reveals he intends on leaving the Shire for one last adventure and leaves his inheritance to his nephew Frodo, including the Ring. Gandalf investigates the Ring, discovering its true identity and warns Frodo. Learning Gollum was tortured by Orcs and told them that Bilbo took the Ring, Gandalf instructs Frodo to leave the Shire, accompanied by his gardener Samwise Gamgee. Gandalf rides to Isengard, meeting fellow wizard Saruman the White, but learns he is in league with Sauron, who has unleashed the Ringwraiths to find Frodo. After a brief battle, Saruman imprisons Gandalf. Frodo and Sam are joined by fellow Hobbits, Merry and Pippin, and they evade the Ringwraiths, arriving in Bree where they are meant to meet Gandalf, but are instead aided by a ranger named Strider, a friend of Gandalf’s who escorts them to Rivendell.The Hobbits are ambushed by the Ringwraiths, one stabbing Frodo with a morgul blade. Arwen, an elf and Strider’s lover, comes to Frodo’s aid and successfully takes him to Rivendell where he is healed, meeting Gandalf who escaped Saruman on the back of a giant eagle. Arwen’s father, Lord Elrond, holds a council, deciding that the Ring must be destroyed in Mount Doom. While the members argue, Frodo volunteers to take the Ring, accompanied by Gandalf, Sam, Merry, Pippin, elf Legolas, dwarf Gimli, Boromir of Gondor, and Strider, who is revealed to be Aragorn, Isildur’s heir and rightful King of Gondor. Bilbo gives Frodo his sword, Sting. The Fellowship of the Ring sets off but Saruman’s magic forces them to travel through the Mines of Moria.The Fellowship find the dwarves within Moria have been slain, and they are attacked by Orcs and a cave troll. They defeat them, but are confronted by an ancient demon called the Balrog. Gandalf casts the Balrog into a vast chasm, but its fiery whip drags Gandalf down into the darkness with it. The rest of the Fellowship, now led by Aragorn, reach Lothlórien, home to elves Galadriel and Celeborn. Galadriel privately informs Frodo that only he can complete the quest and one of his friends will try to take the Ring. Meanwhile, Saruman creates an army of Uruk-hai to track and kill the Fellowship save Frodo.The Fellowship leave Lothlórien by river to Parth Galen. Frodo wanders off, confronted by Boromir who tries to take the Ring in desperation. Afraid of the Ring corrupting his friends, Frodo decides to travel to Mordor alone. The other members fight off the Uruk-hai, but Merry and Pippin are taken captive, and Boromir is mortally wounded by the Uruk chieftain. After killing the chieftain, Aragorn helps Boromir die peacefully. Sam follows Frodo, accompanying him to keep his promise to Gandalf to protect Frodo, while Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli go to rescue Merry and Pippin.The extended versions are easily recommended over the theatrical versions. Across the three films you’re getting at least two hours of additional scenes which cover more of the story and fill in the gaps. Some of them are not plot critical, hence their original omission, but it’s nice to have them all the same.

REVIEW: UNDERWORLD 3: RISE OF THE LYCANS

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CAST

Rhona Mitra (Shooter)
Michael Sheen (Kingdom of Heaven)
Bill Nighy (Wrath of The Titans)
Steven Mackintosh (Kick-Ass 2)
Kevin Grevioux (I, Frankenstein)
Elizabeth Hawthrone (Cleopatra 2525)
Mark Mitchinson (Power Rangers Dino Supercharge)
Tania Nolan (Step Dave)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Jared Turner (30 Days of Night)
Kate Beckinsale (Total Recall)
Shane Brolly (Spread)
Jason Hood (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Mark Mitchinson (Filthy Rich NZ)

The film tells the story of Lucian, the first werewolf born capable of taking human form and the first to be called a Lycan. Viktor, a vampire elder, raises the child, and envisions a race of Lycan slaves that could guard the coven’s fortress during the day and be used as laborers by the vampires at night. The forests and the countryside are indeed filled with savage werewolves born from William’s rampage, and human nobles have taken to asking Viktor for protection against the beasts, protection Viktor grants in exchange for a tribute of silver, with which to keep his slaves under control. As Lucian grows up, he and Viktor’s daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra) fall in love and begin a secretive intimate relationship in their adult years. Sonja is reckless and insubordinate, and one night Lucian escapes and rescues Sonja from his werewolf brethren. Viktor, despite acknowledging that Lucian saved his daughter, cannot forgive the escape and locks Lucian away.eacd25dc-2102-4b51-bca1-ad171b740118With the help of Andreas Tanis, Sonja orchestrates Lucian’s release in exchange for her seat on the vampire council. Lucian, unable to flee alone, decides to escape after liberating all of the other Lycans. Sonja remains behind but will meet Lucian in three days. While preparing to leave she is visited by her father. Viktor asks if she assisted in Lucian’s escape, and although she denies it, he discovers the real truth after biting her neck and reading her memories through her blood. Discovering her relationship with Lucian, he then imprisons her. Meanwhile, in the forest, Lucian recruits both human slaves and werewolves to form a force against the vampires. In the fortress, the vampire council and nobles demand that Viktor recapture Lucian, as his Lycans have been attacking human estates and freeing their slaves and offering them immortality as Lycans themselves. Viktor replies that he is confident Lucian will return as he has something Lucian wants, Sonja.MV5BM2Y1MTNjODYtZGNkNi00NzhjLTliNTAtYmViOGRiNWM1NmJhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUyNDk2ODc@._V1_Lucian learns about Sonja’s imprisonment and eventually rescues her from her room but they are stopped from escaping by Viktor. Sonja, hoping to spare Lucian’s life, reveals to Viktor that she is pregnant with Lucian’s child. Disgusted, Viktor overpowers her and imprisons both her and Lucian. Sonja is unanimously sentenced to death by the council at a trial presided over by her father, and is executed by exposure to sunlight in Lucian’s presence. Viktor later visits her body and retrieves her pendant.

Lucian tries to escape the fortress but his attempt is thwarted by the Death Dealers; Lucian, now able to communicate with and control the wild werewolves, summons them to storm the fortress. In the melee, the Vampire Council members are killed along with their aides and lesser vampire nobles. When realizing that Viktor intends to flee, Lucian pursues him, and they fight. Lucian manages to trap Viktor by exposing him to shafts of sunlight and then stabs Viktor through the mouth with a sword and pushes his body down into a nearby body of water. With the battle over, Lucian’s deputy Raze declares that “it is finished”, but Lucian realizes this victory is only the beginning of what will become a war between the races.

The film’s coda reveals that Viktor has survived his wound, has made it onto a vampire ship fleeing the fortress, and is sealed into an elder hibernation chamber by Tanis. Also, the opening scene of the first Underworld film is shown, with the voice of vampire Kraven (Shane Brolly) revealing to Selene (Kate Beckinsale) that Viktor had killed her family, not the Lycans, but had spared her life because she reminded him of his executed daughter Sonja; Selene, unaware of the truth, dismisses Kraven’s statement as “lies”.This film fills in some gaps, most of which we didn’t know existed until this film. This stands alone as a pretty good film,. When you view this as part of the trilogy it considerably increases the viewer experience. Sheen and Nighy impress, Sheen is a hero without being too heroic, and Nighy is superbly creepy. The blood spurting action is there, but there’s a meaningful story too.

REVIEW: SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE

 

CAST

Liam McIntyre (Legend of Hercules)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Viva Bianca (Showing Roots)
Katrina Law (Arrow)
Daniel Feuerriegel (Winners & Losers)
Nick E. Tarabay (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)
Dustin Clare (Wolf Creek TV)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Brett Tucker (Thor: The Dark World)
Kevin J. Wilson (Legend of The Seeker)
Brooke Williams (12 Monkeys)
Hanna Mangan Lawrence (Acolytes)
Tom Hobbs (Winners & Losers)
Pana Hema Taylor (The Dead Lands)
Luke Pegler (The Condemned)
Mark Ferguson (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive)
Peter McCauley (The Lost World)
Bede Skinner (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Delaney Tabron (Deathgasm)
Stephen Ure (Xena)
Ellen Hollman (The Scorpion King 4)
Michael Hurst (Hercules: TLJ)

After triumph and tragedy, the Spartacus saga returns to the small screen to continue the tale of a former slave who has lost everything and will do whatever he can to exact vengeance on those that have done him wrong. Spartacus: Vengeance picks up after the events of the first season, which was called Blood and Sand. The show went into production, but had to be delayed due to Andy Whitfield’s illness and subsequent death. Gears shifted and a prequel was created that follow the events that led up to Blood and Sand called Gods of the Arena, which introduced more characters that carried over into Vengeance. Spartacus: Blood and Vengeance picks up shortly after the events that culminated with the House of Batiatus massacre where Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) freed all of the gladiators and led them to revolt. He and his comrades carry on freeing slaves and adding them to their ranks. Since the House of Batiatus no longer stands Spartacus’ new quest is to kill the man who committed his wife to slavery, Gaius Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker).
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Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) has returned, and this time she bears the gift of foresight from the Gods. Ilithyia (Viva Bianca) is back and even colder,conniving, and more delicious than ever. Along with her husband and Rome emissary  husband, they will try to squash the uprising led by Spartacus and his legion.

I loved Andy Whitfield’s performance in Blood and Sand, because it’s what cemented that season’s success. We were there for the journey, side by side with him until the end. Gearing up for season two, he took ill, and would not come back to finish the series. I was sort of skeptical, because I didn’t think the show could carry forward without Andy. Gods of the Arena was awesome, because it introduced Gannicus (Dustin Clare).

The show retains its quality while adding colorful embellishes here and there – more notably, the slow-motion scenes seem to have been tweaked, which gives them a faster look even though we’re watching it in slow motion. I really enjoyed that the full supporting cast was made the primary character of the series.

As far as the new Spartacus goes – Liam McIntyre had some pretty big shoes to fill, although it takes a few episodes to get use to him, he becomes a welcome addition to the cast and makes the character his own. The relationships of some of the other characters like Crixus (Manu Bennett) and Naevia (Lesley-Ann Brandt); and the Gannicus and Oenomaus dynamic carried over from Gods of the Arena were fascinating.  Spartacus: Vengeance brings on the blood, sex, and violence and reaches new heights in its depiction of it all. It’s hardcore to the max.

REVIEW: SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND

 

CAST

Andy Whitfield (The Clinic)
John Hannah (Agents of Shield)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
Erin Cummings (Bitch Slap)
Viva Bianca (Accidents Happen)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Nick E. Tarabay (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Antonio Te Maioha (Zoolander 2)
Craig Walsh-Wrightson (Vertical Limit)
Jai Courtney (Divergent)
Daniel Feuerriegel (Winners & Losers)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kevin J. Wilsaon (Legend of The Seeker)
Eka Darville (Power Ragers RPM)
Lesley-Ann Brandt (Gotham)
John Bach (The Tattooist)
Jon Brazier (Xena)
Matthew Chamberlain (King Kong)
Brooke Williams (12 Monkeys)
Tania Nolan (Step Dave)
Mike Edward (Filthy Rich)
Katrina Law (Arrow)
Mark Mitchinson (Mortal Engines)

 

Spartacus: Blood and Sand  has the misfortune of borrowing too much from 300 and Gladiator in its pilot episode which could caused some viewers to immediately change the channel or give up after that premiere episode. thankfully many stayed with the show as it truly became a must see show.In The Red Serpent an unnamed Thracian warrior (Andy Whitfield) who pledges he and his people’s support to Rome in exchange for their military assistance against hordes of Barbarians. What follows is a greatest hits collection of those two films, but with a much lower budget and a very odd, over exaggerated take on violence. We meet the warrior’s wife, Sura (Erin Cummings) and their parting before our hero goes to war is straight from “300,” as is his outfit and the slow-mo to sped-up fight scenes. Then a betrayal from the Romans happens and our warrior becomes an outlaw, only to be torn from his wife and taken to a nearby town, Capua, to be executed in the arena. Then, just like “Gladiator” our hero uses his knowledge of war to best four gladiators, when the heart of the crowd, and catch the eye of a local lannista, Batiatus (John Hannah), who buys the warrior and dubs him Spartacus.122320-spartacus_blood_sand_422x218Spartacus evolves into a lethal warrior of the coliseum. It’s not a fast process, and the first few episodes while entertaining, are nothing compared to the series when it races towards the season finale. Once a member of Batiatus’ ludus, he quickly encounters opposition from reigning champion, Crixus (Manu Bennett), the undefeated Gaul and Barca, the “Beast of Carthage” an equally brutal warrior who is later revealed to have a more private, tender side. the series doesn’t make the mistake of giving us a protagonist who is an instant success, Spartacus is definitely skilled, but as the doctore or trainer (Peter Mensah, a very welcome presence on the series) stresses, he is nothing compared to the men of the ludus (gladiator school) who have been training for fights to the death for much longer; this is their way of life, one Spartacus must learn to accept and respect if he is to survive and find his wife, taken by the legatus who betrayed him in the pilot. With the promise of support by Batiatus in seeing this task carried out, Spartacus begins his journey from warrior of a small village to eventual legend of the arena.UntitledSpartacus: Blood and Sand is quite brilliant in its ability to slow build an intricate web of plots involving all characters, big and small at some point in this freshman season. While the advertised story is Spartacus’, the real intrigue comes from Batiatus’ quest to break into local politics. With his devious wife Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) by his side manipulating the wife of the same legatus responsible for Spartacus’ wife’s enslavement; the end goal, a foot in the door. To get a series about Roman life without heavy handed political plotlines is extremely refreshing; the characters of Blood and Sand are all ruthless in one way or the other and while Batiatus and Lucretia aspire to increase their station in life, they still largely know only a few ways to go about things and when things don’t work out for Batiatus, violence often follows. John Hannah is an absolute delight in the role, chewing scenery right and left, committing heinous acts and still managing to win the hearts of viewers with his earnest respect for Spartacus. Too long a supporting player in films like “The Mummy,” Hannah shows his underutilized talent to the fullest and is easily one of the most fascinating characters to watch. Likewise, Lucy Lawless is no slouch herself, playing a spoiled wife doing her husband’s bidding by day and having an affair behind his back with Crixus the minute he steps outside the ludus to try and better their lives.Manu Bennett quietly evolves from a general jackass to one of the series’ most complex characters as Spartacus’ main rival Crixus and is a major player in events regarding the arena. Back on the sand of the training yard, Spartacus finds an ally in Varro, the only man in the school who willingly signed himself into service. Varro represents a humanity Spartacus has lost, a man with a wife and child he fights to support and Varro, himself, grows as a character highlighting the show’s writers treating no character as unimportant. Minor characters such as Naevia, Lucretia’s personal slave comes to prominence as the love interest of Crixus creating yet another subplot, a romantic triangle that could have very deadly consequences. A lot of these little side stories are thrown out to the audience rather quickly and it can be overwhelming at first, making the first four episodes weaker compared to the latter episodes. The fifth episode, “The Shadow of Death” is a true game changer, cementing some characters in roles they will remain in until the end of the season and setting events into motion that will play out as expected in some cases, but in others throw the audience curveballs they could have never predicted. Episodes like “Party Favors” and “Whore” are prime examples, setting up the final act of each episode and building character depth prior to; then out of nowhere, something shocking happens that changes the dynamic of the show and many relationships between characters. While, I ultimately had an idea of where the show would end its season at (it is after all loosely based on the true story of Spartacus and the slave rebellion), I never expected what was to come in that final episode, “Kill Them All,” despite the ominous title.Comparisons to Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of “Spartacus” will likely arise, but to be honest, aside from using the historical story as a story guide, thankfully, the series doesn’t try to ape Kubrick. Some of the most colorful language this side of “Deadwood” is uttered, nudity is plentiful and the show is not shy with copious amounts of heavily stylized, CG, blood and gore. Heads are cleaved, faces are crushed, limbs are dismembered, people are crucified and castrated; think of a violent act and it likely occurs at some point in the series.After 13 episodes that kept me on my toes up to the final frame, “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” wraps up very nicely, paving a way for a second season that could take any number of roads. Sadly, Andy Whitfield, the tremendous actor behind the titular character died. Initially diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the creators delayed production, instead filming a six-episode prequel focusing on life in the ludus before Spartacus’ arrival. Whitfield, given a clean bill of health was all set to resume filming on the new season, when his cancer returned and he had to make the heartbreaking decision of quitting a show that made him a star and he played a large part in its success. He died a few months later.