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Spartacus: Vengeance Blu-ray Review

“Spartacus: Vengeance” is not as enjoyable as “Blood and Sand.”

In the 10 episode second season of “Spartacus” (AKA “Spartacus: Vengeance”), Liam McIntyre steps into the role of Spartacus after the sad passing of actor Andy Whitfield. The story picks up where “Blood and Sand” left off and revolves around Spartacus and Crixus training gladiators and slaves to eventually kill Glaber. Meanwhile, Glaber has been assigned to kill Spartacus with his Roman soldiers backing him. Other plots you can expect to see are: Crixus searching for Naevia, Lucretia (now a sort of Oracle) working with Ashur (a slave who works with Glaber), Spartacus freeing slaves, Ilithyia (Glaber’s wife) desiring a politician named Varinius, Spartacus having a romance with Mira, arena battles, Spartacus rescuing a character (won’t say who), Ilithyia being kidnapped, and a showdown between Spartacus and company vs. Glaber and company. Other characters who have key subplots include Oenomaus (an ally of Spartacus and a former gladiator trainer), Agron (a warrior /gladiator), Gannicus (a gladiator who allies himself with Spartacus) and Seepius (an assassin out to kill Spartacus and his men).

For the Starz channel, “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” (the first season) was their first major hit in terms of original programming, but the series really should have ended there after lead actor Andy Whitfield tragically passed away of cancer. That’s not to say Liam McIntyre does a poor job taking over the role of Spartacus, but the show is just not as engaging without him.

Steven S. DeKnight, the writers, and the production team certainly try to make the series feel like more of the same with loads of “300” esque scenes of violent, slow motion action mixed with rock music (an odd choice to be sure) and the nudity filled manly soap opera dramatics, but it all becomes so tiresome and repetitious after the first episode. If you’ve seen one episode, you’ve really seen it all of this flashy television show that isn’t the least bit historically accurate nor is particularly well written (see the dopey dialogue for reference).

Additionally, as I mentioned above, the lack of Andy Whitfield (as well as actor John Hannah) leaves a hole in the series. Both of those actors are what really made “Blood and Sand” watchable and their absence certainly shows in “Vengeance.”

Summary: If you’re a “Spartacus” devotee, you may enjoy “Vengeance,” but I can’t quite recommend it for anyone else.

Video/Audio:

The stylized look and CGI of “Vengeance” is definitely best suited for hi-def. The series, in case you were interested, is presented in 1.78:1 1080p.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track is loud as hell. From the sword play to the stabbings, this track packs a mean punch.

Extras:
* “Spartacus: War Of the Damned,” “Magic City,” “Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena” game, “Boss,” trailers.
* Extended versions of episodes 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.
* Commentary on “Fugitivus” by Steven S. DeKnight, Viva Bianca, Lucy Lawless, and Liam McIntyre. A good track that pays tribute to Andy Whitfield and also provides plenty of interesting behind-the-scenes stories.
* Commentary on “A Place In This World” by Steven S. DeKnight, Lucy Lawless, Liam McIntyre, and Peter Mensah. Another solid track. This group has great chemistry together.
* A talkative commentary on “The Greater Good” by Lucy Lawless, Craig Parker, and Rob Tapert.
* Commentary on “Empty Hands” by Rob Tapert, Mark Beesley, Viva Bianca and Peter Baustaedter. Some interesting directorial information here, but it’s not the best track on the set.
* Commentary on “Libertus” by Rick Jacobson and Liam McIntyre. Worth a listen.
* Commentary on “Chosen Path” by Steven S. DeKnight, Viva Bianca, Lucy Lawless and Nick Tarabay. Any track with Steven and Lucy is always good.
* Commentary on “Sacramentum” by Rob Tapert, Jesse Warn and Dustin Clare. Weakest track here as there are several quiet spots and a general lack of enthusiasm.
* Commentary on “Wrath Of The Gods” Steven S. DeKnight, Viva Bianca, Lucy Lawless, and Liam McIntyre. Same group as the first track so you know it’s another good one.
* Bloopers.
* “Famous Last Words”- Various cast members talk about their character’s demise.
* “Starz Studios: Spartacus Vengeance” A standard promotional featurette for the season.
* “The Making Of Spartacus Vengeance”- A scant 5 minute behind-the-scenes featurette.
* “Behind The Camera: Directing The Rebellion”- Another short featurette (this time about scene direction).
* “On Set With Liam McIntyre”- A video diary of sorts that revolves around the star on and off set.
* “The Legend Of Spartacus”- A more historical based featurette about the, you guessed it, legend of Spartacus.
* “Burning Down The House: The VFX Of Episode 205”- Title says it all.

November 5, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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