Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
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attachment.php?attachmentid=221941&d=1315355300
The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373697

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373697

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

94






Studio and Year: Starz/Anchor Bay - 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Feature running time: 347 minutes
Genre: TV/Action/Adventure/Drama/History

Disc Format: BD-50 (2 Disk Set)
Encoding: VC-1 (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English
Starring: Dustin Clare, Lucy Lawless, Manu Bennett, John Hannah, Peter Mensah
Directed by: Grady Hall, Rick Jacobson and Jesse Warn
Music by: Joseph LoDuc
Created by: Steven S. DeKnight
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 13, 2011







"Some Legends Are Written in Blood."



Film Synopsis:

Before Spartacus struck down his first opponent in the arena, there were many gladiators who passed though the gates onto the sand. "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" tells the story of the original Champion of the House of Batiatus: Gannicus in a more ruthless time before Spartacus' arrival where honor was just finding its way into the arena.




My Take:

"Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" was a supposed stop-gap 6 episode series while Spartacus himself, Andy Whitfield, fought his biggest bout, cancer. Unfortunately he lost that battle on September 11th, just 2 days before this sets release. I will say this 6 episode prequel was lacking some of Andy's charm while focusing on John Hannah (who is amazing in this) and Lucy Lawless as they scheme to take their collection of Gladiator/Slaves to the ranks of the more fortunate crews.attachment.php?attachmentid=223203&d=1316543942

Not much has changed between this and "Spartacus: Blood and Sand", so here is a snippet of that review I wrote last year.

"...can be summed up as a soap opera of equal parts 300, Gladiator and Caligula. Blood, breasts and drama; sounds fun and it is. Just a warning, it's all to the extreme. Graphic sex, like late night skin-e-max stuff, with full frontal nudity is common place here. We are also treated to decapitations, swords slashing into every possible body part and a liberal use of blood...Oh and the language, wow those Romans sure did have an art for using some very colored language. For those who are not bothered by that, you will be rewarded with a fun, glossy series..."Spartacus" is stylized, going for a graphic novel look and feel (hence the comparison's to 300). I definitely enjoyed the production as it added an element that helped the series jump to a cooler level then it reached based on its storytelling alone."

This series focuses on the rise of the house of Batiatus. In order to make it to a prime slot in the new arena, Batiatus (John Hannah, The Mummy Series) and his wife Lucretia (Lucy Lawless, Zena Warrior Princess) plot out moves like a game of chess, showing how ruthless they can be as they try to climb the ranks. Like "Blood and Sand", we follow the story of another gladiator, Gannicus (Dustin Clare, The Eye of the Storm) who is is ego manic, living for the woman, wine and kill. I found his character to less compelling than Andy Whitfield's Spartacus, who had a deeper storyline/arch. I see this series less about the one main Gladiator and more of how things got to where they were in "Blood and Sand". In its job as a prequel it was quite good, delivering the same potent mix of blood, breasts and story. I look forward to seeing if there will be a third series...count me in!




Parental Guide:

Not Rated. Extreme Violence, Nudity and Adult Themes





AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 94



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373694

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373698

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373697

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373697

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373697


Video: 94



  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373697

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373698

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373698

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373696
attachment.php?attachmentid=223204&d=1316543942

'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' comes to Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay Entertainment & Starz featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24.4 mbps and Dolby TrueHD sound that has an average bitrate of 2.2 mbps

Again, my thoughts are the same as "Spartacus: Blood and Sand", having reference Audio and Video quality. Here are my thoughts from that review- "The audio and video are both stylized, aggressive and original. The video production has super fine details combined with CGI backgrounds that give a depth and pop to this interesting production. The background, being mostly blue screened does look a bit fake, but the separation from the foreground image is what give it that depth and fun cartoon look. Flesh-tones and black levels are superb, adding to that depth. The arena fight scenes do have a (said in almost every article on this show) 300 meets Gladiator look. The fights are like a live comic book, having over exaggerated sounds of swords, flesh tearing and blood spurting. This blood is CGI and has a super defined red color that flies across and almost off the screen. Dialogue is crisp and clear, always discernible in the forefront in the mix. The top-notch score is used loud and liberally, adding to this front heavy presentation that has a wide front sound-stage.The surrounds are used tastefully for effect and atmosphere, and not over used as much as I anticipated given the aggressive nature of the rest of the soundtrack. The low end is articulate, never floppy, and at times, surprisingly deep. This is an super fun and cool presentation-- you will be impressed."

I did notice a stronger use of the surround channels with this series, and I was just as struck with how fun the production is, and the ante seemed to be upped with a bit more detail to the gore. There are just as many pretty naked people here, and the flesh-tones are lovely Of noted interest is the special feature- "3D Battle Sequence". It is indeed in 3D, and really looks amazing. It is a rendition of a night time fight sequence that is set around a ring of fire. The depth the black of night and contrasting fire brings make this rival any 3D release I have seen, too bad it is only 5 minutes!



Episodes:


  • Past Transgressions, Missio, Paterfamilias, Beneath the Mask, Reckoning, The Bitter End


Bonus Features:


  • Audio Commentaries on all 6 Episodes

  • (HD) Battle Royale: Anatomy of a Scene

  • (HD) 3D Battle Sequence

  • (HD) Convention Panel

  • (HD) Weapons of Mass Disruption

  • (HD) Dressed to Kill

  • (HD) On Set with Lucy Lawless

  • (HD) Enter the Arena: Production Design

  • (HD) Extended Episodes

  • (HD) Starz Studios: Gods of the Arena

  • (HD) Arena Bloopers

  • (HD) 10 Easy Steps to Dismemberment
  • attachment.php?attachmentid=223202&d=1316543942




Final Thoughts:

"Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" is worth a watch to fans of the first series. Also, it's a good place to start if you have never seen "Spartacus: Blood and Sand". Be prepared for LOTS..I mean LOTS of blood, sex, and full frontal nudity: it's over use blood, sex and violence are as important to the ride as is its storytelling. Anchor Bay's release is packed with extras and is a reference quality A/V presentation. This comes highly recommended to those interested. Just remember, I warned you about its gratuitous nature.





attachment.php?attachmentid=157497&d=1257542613







Lee Weber
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews




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post #2 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 10:36 AM
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Lee...thanks. As always, great review.

I was saddened to hear of Mr Whitfield's passing, especially since he was so young. I suppose this is the last of his performances.

I am a big fan of "Blood and Sand". You're right......huge amount of gore, sex, betrayal, lying, violence, well....just about everything.

That doesn't bother me as I like the story, the writing, the acting and the way it looks (why do the premium cable channels seem to look and sound so much better than their OTA counter parts?).

Your review makes it a definite purchase for me.

Again, good job and thanks!

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post #3 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 11:55 AM
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I'm confuse I thought Andy wasn't in this one? Isn't this a prequel, before the uprising?


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post #4 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Djoel View Post

I'm confuse I thought Andy wasn't in this one? Isn't this a prequel, before the uprising?


Djoel

He is not. "this series focuses on the rise of the house of Batiatus. ... "Blood and Sand", we follow the story of another gladiator, Gannicus "
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post #5 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 12:33 PM
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So a third year is still up in the air? I have the first one but just don't know if it's worth purchasing this if the series is dead.

Thanks,
Tom

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post #6 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Weber View Post

He is not. "this series focuses on the rise of the house of Batiatus. ... "Blood and Sand", we follow the story of another gladiator, Gannicus "


Yeah, oh kay...

I was a little confuse because I see his name on the credit above, and a memeber posted that this was his last performance.

Thanks Lee,


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post #7 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Monahan View Post

So a third year is still up in the air? I have the first one but just don't know if it's worth purchasing this if the series is dead.

Thanks,
Tom

The part was recast, so as far as I know the series will continue.
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post #8 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 01:07 PM
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I enjoyed B&S more as Whitfield's performance as Spartacus equalled Hannah's Batiatus and gave the series balance and gravitas. GotA had it's moments and provided backstory for the characters that survived to S1.

Season 2, Spartacus Vengeance will air in January with a new/younger actor, Liam McIntyre, taking over as Sparty. He's got a similar face to Andy, is taller, but his physique lacks Andy's definition. Looking forward to the new season. There are trailers up on IMDB.

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post #9 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 01:27 PM
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Ahhhh....I posted that about Andy. I thought he was in this one. Didn't know he wasn't.

My apologies.

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post #10 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 01:54 PM
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I LOVED this prequel. It's reason for existing is really sad though
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post #11 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 06:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cshaw88 View Post

The part was recast, so as far as I know the series will continue.

Correct, a third season is being filmed at the moment. I am only 10km away from where all this blue screen backdrop is all happening

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post #12 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Monahan View Post

So a third year is still up in the air? I have the first one but just don't know if it's worth purchasing this if the series is dead.

Thanks,
Tom

Spartacus: Vengance starts January 2012 on Starz with Liam McIntyre taking over the role of Spartacus.

Here's the trailer:

http://youtu.be/GObQ_VCGu6w
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post #13 of 16 Old 09-21-2011, 11:46 PM
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I really want to see this, but neither Blockbuster or Netflix has it to rent. I don't see an option to add it to my queue to Netflix and Blockbuster has a very long wait for it. I was completely bummed out when I heard the news about Andy Whitfield. It ruined my day when I was reading about it online. I read several news pieces online about how he was getting better and that he may be back for the second season. It was a major shock that he passed away considering all the things I read about his recovery.
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post #14 of 16 Old 09-22-2011, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Monahan View Post

So a third year is still up in the air? I have the first one but just don't know if it's worth purchasing this if the series is dead.

Thanks,
Tom

If you enjoyed the original one, you will like this one as well. I would get it even if the series would not continue (glad that it will, though).
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post #15 of 16 Old 09-23-2011, 12:16 AM
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I watched it Netflix streaming but for the price I ordered it from Amazon so I can watch it again on BR. (Netflix streaming is losing their contract with stars).

I am so glad to see that they will bring it back for a third season. If they keep doing what they are doing I could watch it for a long time in the future.

I do have the first season on DVD and loved every minute of it as well.
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post #16 of 16 Old 09-24-2011, 02:37 AM
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Yes very sad news about Andy, he was magnetic in B&S and I'm sure would have had a superb career ahead.

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