Review – Spartacus MMXII: The Beginning (2012)

Spartacus MMXII: The Beginning (2012) is just about as epic as any Hollywood blockbuster you may have seen this past summer. Consequently, it also dances around some of the same pitfalls I’ve noticed plaguing mainstream megafilms lately. Let me explain…

First, the tale:

Lust, betrayal, survival… Forced to fight for his life… A search for salvation…

Spartacus (Marcus London) is captured and forced to fight to the death in the arena. After surviving the onslaught, he is sold to the Ludis of Batiatus (Tony de Sergio) where he is thrust into a world of sex and violence. He finds an unlikely ally in fellow slave Crixus (Tommy Gunn), as they are both expected to please Lucretia (Devon Lee). In addition to performing in depraved orgies, they must train to fight against the unbeaten giant Androcoles. Will they fall victim to the gladiator or will they prove victorious and earn their freedom? A sexual epic for the ages!

And the trailer…

 

Basically, the plot summary above describes exactly what happens in Spartacus – an unlikely alliance, intrigue, some sexy sexytime, and room for a sequel at the end. The entire projects has some really great elements…

The epicness: it is 100% obvious that this is a big deal film, and a lot of effort went into making it. From the size of the cast, the set design and costuming, and things like fight choreography, Spartacus wasn’t just thrown together.

The authenticity: though this film wasn’t exactly 100% accurate in a period piece sense, an excellent effort was made to paint a specific picture. From characters’ names and back stories to the ways in which the dialogue was delivered, it was clear that a certain tone was being targeted.

Further, great and obvious effort was made to tamp down performers’ “modernity.” For example, when is the last time you didn’t see Jenna Presley’s tattoos? And consider this image of Andy San Dimas as Neavia – when have you ever seen her looking like this?

(pictured: beautiful and interesting attention to detail)

It wasn’t perfectly executed, but it was a really good effort.

The opportunity to see some key adult performers in different settings and roles… 

Ben English – so sarcastically disdainful, which is one thing he’s generally good at, but it’s probably challenging to be so wtf-smug in a toga. And Brad Armstrong… hilarious!! And when was the last time you saw the Prinzzess anywhere near a penis? (she didn’t interact with it… she was just near it) And Tanya Tate’s scene where she sizes up the gladiators at her sexual disposal – she plays cold-hearted classist snake, in all her cosplay glory, to a tee!!

(pictured: Tanya Tate as Ilithyia)

Spartacus MMXII also had some relatively “medium” points…

The sex: there are eight total sex scenes in this film, and they’re all good (I personally liked the Charley Chase-Nicole Aniston-Prinzzess-Tommy Gunn bathtub scene the best – it was kinda different)… but none of them really constitute “depraved,” orgies or otherwise.

*BUT*

– The sex was great in the sense that it was very appropriate for what I perceive to be Spartacus‘ target audience: the “mainstream” and/or more occasional porn viewer.

You could very easily cut all the sex from Spartacus and still have a perfectly reasonable, Hollywood-caliber film. In fact, though I found the plot of Spartacus to be a little simplistic and predictable, I also found the plots of many mainstream summertime blockbusters to be a little simplistic and predictable (think all those Avengers movies and whatnot). Spartacus meets “mainstream” on its own turf and definitely gives it a run for its money.

I personally wasn’t moved by Spartacus and I don’t see the film breaking any new theoretical ground, but maybe that’s actually how it’s effective – Spartacus is one of the most “regular” adult films I’ve seen lately *IF* your standard for regular is mainstream Hollywood. In that respect, this film was actually quite impressive.

Whatsmore, and not to be presumptuous, but the presence of so many dirty sweaty manly hardbodies makes me think this film may have a wider target audience than most adult “straight” features. Because just about anyone who wants to gaze lustily at man-flesh is gonna dig the scenery.

 (pictured: #justsayin)

Further, apparently there were a lot of back-end complexities shaping Spartacus. I got all this from the credits alone:

Spartacus MMXII: The Beginning was presented by London Gunn Films and Miko Lee Productions. It was written and directed by Marcus London, who was assisted by Tommy Gunn and Devon Lee. Miko Lee is the film’s Executive Producer, but the title as a whole was produced by Marcus London, Tommy, Gunn, and Tony De Sergio. (huh?)

There’s also some interesting creative and post-production elements (camera and editing and stuff), with the end product being distributed by Wicked Pictures. In general, there’s a lot of “Wicked family” in this film. And the cast is HUGE – eighteen total performers with eleven additional non-sex having dudes (gladiators and such).

I point out all these different parties and production titles and roles because they may contribute to the dynamic I started with: Spartacus dances around some of the same pitfalls I’ve noticed plaguing mainstream megafilms lately.

Here’s the thing: this film obviously took a significant measure of time, money, effort, creativity, and faith to make. It’s been my experience that sometimes “edgy” gets lost in the sizable “mainstream.” I see this in all sorts of Hollywood endeavors, and I see this in Spartacus MMXII. This is not necessarily a bad thing. (maybe “pitfalls” it the wrong word – perhaps I should be speaking in terms of film spectrums?) In fact, these similarities point to adult industry mainstreaming. If that’s the goal – for some it is, for others it isn’t – then the varied, collective team behind Spartacus have taken a big step.

 

Recommended for: If Hollywood blockbusters and Gladiator (2000)-esque epics are your thing, you’ll love Spartacus. This is a solid, entertaining film punctuated with some decent-caliber fight scenes and well-tempered sex – a good choice for newer porn viewers, too.

 

Spartacus MMXII: The Beginning (2012)

With performances by Andy San Dimas, Karina O’Reilley (as Carina Roman), Charley Chase, Devon Lee, Gracie Glam, India Summer, Jenna Presley, Melanie Rios, Miko Lee, Nicole Aniston, Nikki Daniels, Prinzzess, Tanya Tate, Marcus London, Nacho Vidal, T.J. Cummings, Tommy Gunn, and Tony De Sergio.

Non-sex performances from Ben English, Brad Armstrong, Eric Masterson, Jack Lawrence, Jack Vegas, Kyle Stone, Lucas Stone, Marco Rivera, Reno, Shane Xavier, and Vic D Vine (as Vic D).

Directed by several people for a collection of entities (see body of review). Released in September, 2012. Buy your copy here.

 

BTS: Really great “making of” footage and interviews with cast members that I hate to say I enjoyed more than the actual film. There’s some interesting behind the scenes insights and high-quality footage, plus I just like that kind of stuff. The BTS also includes some fairily standard photo galleries and trailers and things.

* * *

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Images used with permission from Wicked Pictures.

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