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Spartacus: Blood and Sand- Season One (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
attachment.php?attachmentid=185586&d=12843879574
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 )

93






Studio and Year: Starz/Anchor Bay - 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Feature running time: 692 minutes
Genre: TV/Action/Adventure/Drama/History

Disc Format: BD-50 (4 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: Andy Whitfield, 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 21, 2010







"Some Legends Are Written in Blood.



Film Synopsis:

Torn from his homeland and the woman he loves, Spartacus, a Thracian warrior captured by Romans, is enslaved into a gladiator training school owned by Batiatus and his wife Lucretia. He is forced to fight daily for his life against deadly foes, under the brutal whip of trainer Doctore. Against all odds, Spartacus' rebellious instincts, his intense love for his wife Sura and his powerful fighting skills drive him to win a series of near-impossible battles - setting in motion a revolution against the tyranny of Rome. To survive, he must become more than a man, more than a gladiator. He must become a legend.




My Take:

'Spartacus: Blood and Sand-The Complete First Season' 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 that is not historically accurate, taking liberties for the sake of drama and excitement.attachment.php?attachmentid=185814&d=12845952764

'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' 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. The plot is pretty typical stuff, with typical archetypes and antagonists. We have, of course, Spartacus (Andy Whitfield), a Thracian who's is enslaved, forced to change his name and fight for his life, literally. He is made to become a gladiator who's motivation to defy and win is to find his wife who was taken by the same Roman who took him away from his life and killed his village. His character was not written with enough depth to really lead the series, thankfully most of the supporting players were great characters and casting choices. The stand-outs were Craig Parker (Haldir- The Lord of the Rings) as the evil Roman Claudius Glaber, who is desperate enough to do anything for power, and the always superb John Hannah (the Mummy Series) as Batiatus, the owner of Spartacus and a team of Gladiators.

I saw the pilot episode on Starz when it first aired and thought that it was not that good, so I gave up on it. For anyone who gave up, I can say it got better and better as it went along, just give it a few episodes; by the 4th it had picked up steam and I was hooked. Even though fiction, I enjoyed its take on ancient Rome, there indiscretions, overindulgences and brutal way of life. This series isn't about Rome's political system, about slavery or war. It's about how these people would do whatever it took to get by, get ahead and how greed ruled. Most of all it is about one man's journey and how love sparked his passion to defy it all and become a hero. Well that and a whole bunch of pretty people naked and killing each-other --'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' is a fun ride.




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: 92



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

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

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&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=185813&d=1284595276

'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

'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' is without a doubt a reference set. 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.



Episodes:


  • The Red Serpent, Sacramentum Gladiatorum, Legends, The Thing in the Pit, Shadow Games, Delicate Things, Great and Unfortunate Things, Mark of the Brotherhood, Whore, Party Favors, Old Wounds, Revelations, Kill Them All
attachment.php?attachmentid=185812&d=1284595276

Bonus Features:


  • Audio Commentaries with - Directors Steven S. DeKnight, Rick Jacobson, Jesse Warn, Michael Hurst, Executive Producers Rob Tapert and Joshua Donen, Writer Brent Fletcher and Actors Andy Whitfield, Peter Mensah, Katrina Law, Lucy Lawless, Viva Bianca, and Nick E. Taraby.

  • (HD) Extended and Enhanced Episodes

  • (HD) Spartacus: Blood and Sand Behind-the-Scenes

  • (HD) Shooting Green: The Shadow of Death

  • (HD) Oh, Those Randy Romans

  • (HD) Spartacus: Battle Royale

  • (HD) Grime and Punishment

  • (HD) Gladiator Boot Camp

  • (HD) Andy Gets Plastered

  • (HD) Legend Re-Imagined

  • (HD) Exposing Your Ludus

  • (HD) Spartacus “Vengeance” Trailer

  • (HD) Previews: Brooklyn's Finest, Law Abiding Citizen, The Crazies, Ultimate Fighting Championship



Final Thoughts:

'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' is not for the faint of heart. Its over use blood, sex and violence are as important to the ride as is its storytelling. It is a wild, over the top bit of entertainment, and those looking for depth and historical accuracies will surely be disappointed...or possibly caught up in the insanity of it all?? I was. I really dug the series and am saddened that season two is on hold, or possibly canceled, as Andy Whitfield (Spartacus) resigned to spend time with family as he battles cancer. Best of luck to him and his family. Anchor Bay's release is packed with extras and is a reference quality A/V presentation. I can easily say giving this a spin is worthwhile, 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




Reference Review System:


JVC DLA-RS35 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC27 Receiver (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer

post #2 of 25
Nice review and spot on. My only disagreement is that the actors, nearly all of them, but especially the main players, did achieve depth within the bounds of the scripts, as the season went forward. There was alot of subtle emotion displayed for a bunch of oiled up glads on steroids (that's a joke...sort of). For a series aimed directly between the waist and knees, visually, there was some heart and cleverness to engage the head. I think that's one of the reasons the series was a success.

Too bad about Andy. I don't see how they can replace him.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Temple View Post

Nice review and spot on. My only disagreement is that the actors, nearly all of them, but especially the main players, did achieve depth within the bounds of the scripts, as the season went forward. There was alot of subtle emotion displayed for a bunch of oiled up glads on steroids (that's a joke...sort of). For a series aimed directly between the waist and knees, visually, there was some heart and cleverness to engage the head. I think that's one of the reasons the series was a success.

Too bad about Andy. I don't see how they can replace him.

Thanks Ron!

I was trying to convey that Spartacus was not written as deep as I would have liked, but the other players were great and helped it along.
post #4 of 25
I absolutely loved the series, am looking forward to next years and will buy them all in blu-ray for my collection. Not everything has to be made for children or g-rated only adults. That's one of the great things about this country....You can change the channel or choose not to buy something. Bravo Starz! Great body of work!
post #5 of 25
Well Lee...it's not a turd..but will be a purchase for me.
Good review !! Good Job.... now if my Eagles can give me a win !
post #6 of 25
Currently watching this (on disc 3) and I must say I thought it was just ok after the first few episodes, but I really started to get into it while watching disc 2. Its a solid show with great video and audio. It may not measure up to shows such as Dexter, but its still a damn good show. Very entertaining indeed.
post #7 of 25
I'm surprised I haven't seen any comparisons to my all-time favorite show, HBO's Rome. How does this compare to Rome? I've been contemplating watching this, but afraid it won't measure up....
post #8 of 25
Waitaminnit! Commentary by Martin Landau, Rod Taylor, Martin Milner, Kevin McCarthy, and Earl Holliman???? Can't imagine any of these gentlemen in the arena!
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zero the hero View Post

I'm surprised I haven't seen any comparisons to my all-time favorite show, HBO's Rome. How does this compare to Rome? I've been contemplating watching this, but afraid it won't measure up....

I have yet to see Rome. It is on my list or when I have some free viewing time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by film113 View Post

Waitaminnit! Commentary by Martin Landau, Rod Taylor, Martin Milner, Kevin McCarthy, and Earl Holliman???? Can't imagine any of these gentlemen in the arena!

They are all buff these days. Spartacus has no chance!!!
post #10 of 25
It really sucks that Andy Whitfield has cancer. I did hear they were shooting a prequel which would take place before season 1, but in all honesty I wonder how good it would be.
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by zero the hero View Post

I'm surprised I haven't seen any comparisons to my all-time favorite show, HBO's Rome. How does this compare to Rome? I've been contemplating watching this, but afraid it won't measure up....

A comparison will be hard, after all. "Rome", which I agree on to be absolutely wonderful, is of a much more authentic approach than is "Spartacus" with all its CGI-blood and CGI-locations.

For example, the (few) battle scenes seen in "Rome" are absent the often cartoonish violence shown in "Spartacus". Whereas "Rome" depicts historical events with all their political intricacies, "Spartacus" does not care about politics too much but shifts focus on one man's journey to find his wife by all means necessary. And of course on gladitorial training and fights in the arena with an excessive amount of violence.

What both shows have in common is that they are very good drama, each in their own regard.
post #12 of 25
I am extremely disappointed in the cheap packaging used for this set.Not only have i gone through three sets, all of which had 2-4 damaged discs, but i have
never seen such poor design given to a blueray set before.Even with the protective coating, it should have occurred to whoever designed the packaging, that it likely would result in damaging the discs.

I finally got a refund after proving to Best Buy ttat the problem was with the packaging.The associated opened five other sets off the shelf to try and find a complete set of 4 undamaged discs, but all of those they opened were also all damaged to different degrees.They ended up pulling the rest off the shelf, and notifying their home office about the problem, only to be told that it was a known issue.
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tes7769 View Post

I am extremely disappointed in the cheap packaging used for this set.Not only have i gone through three sets, all of which had 2-4 damaged discs, but i have
never seen such poor design given to a blueray set before.Even with the protective coating, it should have occurred to whoever designed the packaging, that it likely would result in damaging the discs.

I finally got a refund after proving to Best Buy ttat the problem was with the packaging.The associated opened five other sets off the shelf to try and find a complete set of 4 undamaged discs, but all of those they opened were also all damaged to different degrees.They ended up pulling the rest off the shelf, and notifying their home office about the problem, only to be told that it was a known issue.

I am never a fan of "sleeve' type packaging, however, I like it with this set and my discs arrived fine. Maybe I got lucky?
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tes7769 View Post

I am extremely disappointed in the cheap packaging used for this set.Not only have i gone through three sets, all of which had 2-4 damaged discs, but i have
never seen such poor design given to a blueray set before.Even with the protective coating, it should have occurred to whoever designed the packaging, that it likely would result in damaging the discs.

I finally got a refund after proving to Best Buy ttat the problem was with the packaging.The associated opened five other sets off the shelf to try and find a complete set of 4 undamaged discs, but all of those they opened were also all damaged to different degrees.They ended up pulling the rest off the shelf, and notifying their home office about the problem, only to be told that it was a known issue.

I am never a fan of "sleeve' type packaging, however, I liked the design with this set and my discs arrived fine. Maybe I got lucky?
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Weber View Post

I am never a fan of "sleeve' type packaging, however, I like it with this set and my discs arrived fine. Maybe I got lucky?

Mine were fine too. No damage.
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ Matt View Post

Currently watching this (on disc 3) and I must say I thought it was just ok after the first few episodes, but I really started to get into it while watching disc 2. Its a solid show with great video and audio. It may not measure up to shows such as Dexter, but its still a damn good show. Very entertaining indeed.

I stand by my promise that the finale will be one of the most satisfying hours of TV you will see. It delivers on every level.
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tes7769 View Post

I am extremely disappointed in the cheap packaging used for this set.Not only have i gone through three sets, all of which had 2-4 damaged discs, but i have
never seen such poor design given to a blueray set before.Even with the protective coating, it should have occurred to whoever designed the packaging, that it likely would result in damaging the discs.

Sorry that you had a problem with your disks. However, the packaging is almost the same as the Rome set. In the shape of a book, with the disks in cardboard sleeves. I didn't check for scratches, but they all played fine.

Art
post #18 of 25
I was at Costco today and noticed the cheap packaging. I didn't see the Blu-ray, but saw the DVD packaging which is probably the same or similar to the Blu-ray packaging. I stopped to think for a moment that people are probably receiving broken discs left and right. I rented them from BB so I didn't come across any broken discs.
post #19 of 25
I really enjoyed the series. Could not stop watching. I rented the series and watched it straight through. After viewing 3 episodes, I went to Amazon and ordered the set. It wasn't that expensive. But I finished the series with rentals before the set arrived. I was happy to see the packaging as it contains some nice artwork in the album like box.
I plan to watch my own copy in a few weeks.

BTW- this is a rare thing with me, buying a BD, since I usually am satisfied to see these only once so I rent. But series like Star Trek and Lord of the Rings is interesting enough to me that I want a copy here for the time the mood strikes. I also have 24 but only the last season in sold in Blu Ray.
post #20 of 25
I rented disc 1 and thought the show sucked. After renting disc 2 yesterday and loving it, I opened up the copy I picked up at walmart on release day but never opened. At $34.99 it was a steal.

Tom
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mennham View Post

A comparison will be hard, after all. "Rome", which I agree on to be absolutely wonderful, is of a much more authentic approach than is "Spartacus" with all its CGI-blood and CGI-locations.

For example, the (few) battle scenes seen in "Rome" are absent the often cartoonish violence shown in "Spartacus". Whereas "Rome" depicts historical events with all their political intricacies, "Spartacus" does not care about politics too much but shifts focus on one man's journey to find his wife by all means necessary. And of course on gladitorial training and fights in the arena with an excessive amount of violence.

What both shows have in common is that they are very good drama, each in their own regard.

Agree, Rome follows a couple of well drawn characters and their stories through the end on Julius Ceasar's reign, Cleopatra and Anthony, through the beginning of Augustus. You travel the Empire, the sets are authentic, the acting superb. It's a sprawling story and very well done. Spartacus is a very personal story set primarily in one location, Batiatus' ludus, the arena and Capua, a small city. It's stylized presentation works. It's very visceral, lots of blood, betrayal and conniving characters. The acting is very good, Spartacus', the glad's and especially Batiatus and Lucretia's stories are intense and get more entertaining as the season heads full throttle into a righteous climax.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGigaShadow View Post

I stand by my promise that the finale will be one of the most satisfying hours of TV you will see. It delivers on every level.

You were definitely right about the finale being satisfying. In some sick and twisted way I really loved the finale and was cheering like crazy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Monahan View Post

I rented disc 1 and thought the show sucked. After renting disc 2 yesterday and loving it, I opened up the copy I picked up at walmart on release day but never opened. At $34.99 it was a steal.

Tom

After the first episode I was not really sold yet. Actually, the first few episodes were just ok at best, but then the show really starts to establish itself once you get to episode 5 which is the first episode on disc 2.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ Matt View Post

You were definitely right about the finale being satisfying. In some sick and twisted way I really loved the finale and was cheering like crazy.

Glad to to hear it. (Though I'm not surprised) I don't know how anyone who followed it the whole way couldn't love that ending.

I remember also guaranteeing you would "pump your fist and cheer". Sounds like I was right about that too.
post #24 of 25
Just recieved my copy as a gift from the old lady. I watched the entire season in HD on Starz and couldnt agree more with this review. After the first few episodes, this show REALLY starts getting good. Good character development, excellent performances and very exciting storyline. The blood and guts is certainly a bit over the top (especially in the very 300-esque first few episodes), but seemed to mature a bit as the season went on. I can't wait to fire up the new BR discs and sit through it again!

Great review.
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by captainobvious99 View Post

Just recieved my copy as a gift from the old lady. I watched the entire season in HD on Starz and couldnt agree more with this review. After the first few episodes, this show REALLY starts getting good. Good character development, excellent performances and very exciting storyline. The blood and guts is certainly a bit over the top (especially in the very 300-esque first few episodes), but seemed to mature a bit as the season went on. I can't wait to fire up the new BR discs and sit through it again!

Great review.

Thanks Captain. I hope you dig the set--I am glad I have it in my collection.
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