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Manu Bennett

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Roger Corman is back at it, bringing one of his fan favorites Death Race 2000 to a new generation of movie buffs who love bad films. Seriously, if you can’t leave everything behind and just get into it, don’t bother clicking through to watch the Death Race 2050 Red Band Trailer because it can only be the wackiest, goofiest, most fun and gory thing you’ve watched in a long time. Sci-fi fan favorites Manu Bennett (Spartacus, Arrow) and Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) headline this zany cross-country road trip. (more…)

death_race_2000_poster_02Death Race 2000 is one of those films that still holds up almost 35 years later. It was silly and wondrously preposterous in 1975 and still is today. As a child, this NerdBastard couldn’t get enough Death Race 2000 when it came on television on Saturday afternoons, minus the for television edited bits of nudity and adult stuff. Much later in life, watching the uncut version that starred David Carradine as Frankenstein and Sylvester Stallone as Machine Gun Joe, the movie still had that otherworldly quality of trashy cinema that has captivated this lifelong nerd. The 2008 remake set in a prison was fun, but didn’t even come close to the originals impact. Those that followed were best soon forgotten. Especially now that word is out that legendary director Roger Corman is stepping in to produce the reboot along with updating of the title, Death Race 2050. (more…)

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MTV used their NYCC15 platform to release a new trailer during their panel on the upcoming adaptation of Terry Brook‘s Shannara fantasy series titled The Shannara Chronicles. The panel included show runners . Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, author Terry Brooks, as well as cast members Manu Bennett, Poppy Drayton, Austin Butler, and John Rhys-Davies. You can check out the entire panel which begins with the new trailer below. (more…)

TV REVIEW: ‘Arrow’ S3E14 – “The Return”

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It was easy to be cautious when approaching this week’s episode of Arrow called “The Return.” It was a double, if not triple, return with Oliver returning to Lian Yu accompanied by Thea, with Slade Wilson returning to haunt the Queens some more, and, with the flashback, Oliver returning to Starling for the first time since he was shipwrecked. It’s was a minefield of potential letdowns and Easter eggs, a potential contortion of narrative so it would become contrived, and that’s just the flashback. In the present we have to deal with the potential letdown of Slade’s return, since Manu Bennett owned in the role last year and this season’s big bad in the form of Matt Noble‘s Ra’s al Ghul has yet to match up. So how did it all shake out? (more…)

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There may still be hope for MTV‘s new fantasy series Shannara after all. As the casting of the series continues, fan favorite Manu Bennett has joined the cast in a pivotal role. He’s been on our nerdy radar since he first popped up in Xena, Warrior Princess as Marc Anthony. Since that role he’s been a gladiator, a fearsome Tolkien albino troll, and a chemically enhanced berserker that hates a particular favorite Bowman of ours. What fantasy role will he playing this time? (more…)

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We pause in the midst of the 24 hour break between portions of The Flash/Arrow crossover to talk spoilers about the immediate future of the Emerald Archer of Starling City. (Incidentally, you can read the Nerd Bastards review of “Flash Vs Arrow” here if you so choose.) Now Arrow and his cohorts have a lot of problems on their plate at the moment, from the return of Malcolm Merlyn, to the death of Black Canary, to the pending arrival of Ra’s al Ghul, but it seems that the Arrow writers room has one more potentially deadly twist up their sleeve for Oliver Queen and his rascally crew of do-gooders; a blast from the past that will by no means be a welcome surprise for anyone on Team Arrow. Potential spoilers below. (more…)

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Let’s be honest, last night’s episode of Arrow was about as near perfect an episode as they’ve had yet. And this season, as I’ve mentioned over and over, is already a vast improvement over its first. “Deathstroke” is the icing on the cake (which is saying something considering there’s still four more episodes to go). It’s thrilling, tense, and keeps you guessing at where its heading the whole time; an impressive achievement for the often heavy handed show. (more…)

These rumors have been circulating for a little while but today Entertainment Weekly has the confirmation, Manu Bennett has been cast as Slade Wilson and will be appearing in upcoming episodes of the CW’s Arrow. I’m sure some of you are scratching your heads thinking, “Huh? Haven’t we already seen Slade? I mean, anyone who’s up on their DC history knows Slade Wilson is also Deathstroke, and we’ve already seen that guy.” Right you are, we have indeed seen Deathstroke. Hell, he tortured poor Oliver Queen during his time on the island. But as usual, those close to the production are keeping their mouths shut on whether or not it’ll be Slade when Deathstroke removes his mask.

Personally, I’m calling their bluff. Of course, it’ll be Slade. They’ve been able to hold off on officially casting the role because he’s been in a mask. You don’t cast such a physically imposing figure as Manu Bennett for Slade Wilson then have him turn out to not be Deathstroke. Come on. By now I’m hoping you recognize Bennett. He’s made a big impression, on everyone, as Crixus on Starz’s Spartacus, plus he was the white orc, Azog the Defiler, in The Hobbit. To see him as Deathstroke is going to be like the character jumping right off the page.

Bennett is only another in long string a great casting grabs for Arrow. They’ve already nabbed two Who stars with John Barrowman and now Alex Kingston, and there was the great stint as The Huntress from Jessica de Gouw. Next week Fringe‘s Seth Gabel is appearing as their updated spin on Count Vertigo. Honestly, a lot of the time I feel their guest stars and minor roles outshine the main cast.

Are you excited to see Bennett as Deathstro– sorry, Slade Wilson?

Starz returns us to the ancient world of gladiators and Roman decadence with their third season of the sensational swords-and-sandals series, Spartacus: Vengeance. Picking up only a few weeks after season one, the freed gladiators who rebelled against their lanista and master, Batiatus, are now fugitives hiding in the sewers of Capua. Or, fugitivus, as the episode is titled.

For weeks they’ve been terrorizing the city, killing Romans and stealing food and supplies. But their rebellion is becoming weak, splintered, as the freed slaves are beginning to grow hungry and restless. The gladiators are split between two leaders with different goals; Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) seeks revenge for the death of wife while Crixus (Manu Bennett) is determined to be reunited with his love, Naevia, a former slave of the house Batiatus.

The episode opens with Spartacus leading an attack on mercenaries sent to hunt them down. They’re dealt with swiftly and gruesomely. On one of the dead soldier’s chests Spartacus carves a name. Whose name? Why, old friend Gaius Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker) the Roman army legatus now praetor responsible for selling his wife into slavery and eventual death.

Once word of Spartacus’ message reaches Rome, Glaber is sent back to Capua to deal with the mess he’s made. You see, Glaber was responsible for bringing Spartacus to Capua in the first place, where he showed promise in the arena and was bought by Batiatus, a power-hungry and presumptive lanista who sought to rise high in Roman society. Batiatus then blackmailed Glaber into giving his ludus patronage after his batshit crazy wife, Ilithyia (Viva Bianca) kind of-sort of murdered someone and Batiatus covered it up. For Glaber, being linked to Spartacus and his rebellion is putting a nasty stain on his fancy new praetor robes.

For Ilithyia, returning to Capua is like reliving a nightmare. The friendship she began with Batiatus’ wife, Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), almost destroyed her, literally. She was at the ludus, as were many of Capua’s nobles, when Spartacus’ rebellion began. She barely escaped and ordered her guards to lock the doors, condemning everyone still within to a bloody, bloody death. And guess what!? Upon their return to Capua there’s only one residence suited to Glaber’s needs of hunting down Spartacus, it’s the lovely house and ludus of Batiatus! Still with that fresh, recently massacred Roman smell. And it seems the residence is not completely unoccupied.

But what of the arena? Who will fight and die spectacularly in order to please the mob? Since Spartacus’ rebellion it’s clear the quality of gladiators has suffered, and the crowds as well as Capua’s elite are tiring of the boring matches. In attendance is Seppius, a young man of noble birth seeking to capture Spartacus and be honoured for it. He’s joined by his sister, Seppia and their relationship reeks of more than sibling affection. (Note: Their relationship was initially intended to be incestuous but the show’s creators didn’t want to appear to be stealing the idea from HBO’s Game of Thrones and their incestual power couple, the Lannisters.)

Back with the fugitive gladiators, Spartacus and Aurelia (wife of Varro, Spartacus’ only true friend at the ludus who Spartacus was ordered to kill) share a quiet moment. Spartacus gives Aurelia the coin he’s managed to save off dead Romans in the hopes she can find her son, leave the borders of Rome’s empire, and be free. It’s a nice sentiment, but if you learn anything from watching Spartacus, there are no happy endings.

Finally we get to what’s made this series such a hit, sex and slaughter. Crixus and Spartacus seek out a slaver to find some answers about where Naevia was sold. They enter a whorehouse and proceed to kill a bunch of naked people. Nothing’s quite a brothel buzzkill like having your dick severed by a pissed-off Gaul. In the end all they learn of Naevia is she was sold off to a villa in the south, but more importantly they learn Rome is sending an army to end their rebellion. A real Roman army led by Glaber.

Spartacus’ lust for vengeance takes over and instead of heeding caution and joining Crixus in his search for Naevia, he plans to confront Glaber while he makes a speech in the town square. Glaber has come to appease the worried crowds of Capua’s citizens, promising to end Spartacus’ rebellion swiftly. He brings forth a former Batiatus slave captured while trying to flee. It’s Aurelia, bloodied and beaten almost beyond recognition. In his fury, Spartacus’ attacks from where he was concealed in the crowd, seeking out Glaber. The two fight and before Spartacus is overtaken by guards backup arrives in the form of Crixus and the other gladiators. The reclaim Aurelia and escape.

As Aurelia lays dying from her wounds she makes Spartacus promise to stay away from her son for she, “would not have him die in your wake as his father and mother.” Oooh. Burn. After this Spartacus agrees to join Crixus in his search for Naevia, but as they travel south they will free every slave they come upon until they have raised an army. Then they will return and kill Glaber and every Roman standing in their way.

Spartacus truly is back with a vengeance and this season promises to shock us with even more insane, over-the-top violence, debauchery and sex than ever before. I absolutely love the tenuous alliance between Spartacus and Crixus and I’m sure as the season continues we’ll see them clash again and again. Liam McIntyre steps into the role of Spartacus as if he had been playing him all along. In no way do you feel he’s trying to impersonate Andy Whitfield’s performance, but come the end of the episode he is Spartacus, no questions asked. In our interview with some of the show’s stars, Craig Parker (Glaber), mentioned how the actors felt they were working in very different camps. There’s the slaves and the Romans, and I’m interested to see what different challenges the characters face in their respective “arenas.” Particularly Ilithyia having to deal with a deranged, but totally not dead, Lucretia. Viva Bianca and Lucy Lawless’ scenes together were definite highlights of season one and I’m only looking forward to more. Of the new characters introduced, I think the siblings Seppius and Seppia will be fantastic to watch. Incest or not. Who knows what kind of trouble they’ll be stirring up this season.

Make sure you tune in Fridays at 10pm on Starz. Below, watch the trailer for this season of Spartacus: Vengeance.

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