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Spartacus: Vengeance Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Timothy E

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Posted November 25 2012 - 09:47 AM

Spartacus: Vengeance is the second season of the Spartacus television series airing on the Starz Network. The first series, starring Andy Whitfield as Spartacus, was first broadcast in 2010 and is entitled Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after completion of the first season. Since this created a delay in production of the second season, a prequel entitled Spartacus: Gods of the Arena was produced with the series actors and with voiceover by Andy Whitfield, which aired on Starz in 2011. Whitfield was believed cured by the time that this season went into production, but his cancer recurred, and Whitfield gave his blessing for the role to be recast. Sadly, Whitfield passed away on September 11, 2011. Liam McIntyre was cast to play Spartacus in this season, which first aired on Starz in early 2012.


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SPARTACUS VENGEANCE BLU-RAY


Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Year: 2012

Rated: Not Rated

Film Length: 9 hours, 32 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish Mono

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Release Date: September 11, 2012


The Series


Spartacus: Vengeance continues the story of the titular hero, a Thracian gladiator who led an uprising of slaves against the Roman Empire. As this season begins, the rebels have escaped from the House of Batiatus and Praetor Claudius Glaber(Craig Parker) leads the Roman troops to put down the uprising, to the chagrin of his pregnant wife Ilythia(Viva Bianca). Lucy Lawless returns as Lucretia, the widow of Batiatus, as does Dustin Clare as Gannicus, the gladiator who was liberated in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.


Spartacus: Vengeance is stylistically influenced by Zack Snyder’s film adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel 300. This inspiration is apparent in the extensive use of CGI and green screen special effects to recreate a very stylized version of combat in ancient Rome. Spartacus: Vengeance also continues the liberal helping of sex, violence, and profanity that marked the earlier season(s). Although seeing the earlier series helps in understanding the characters’ back stories and motivations, one does not need to have seen the earlier series to follow the story.  The storylines this season drag a little as the writers seem to be setting things up for denouement in Spartacus: War of the Damned.


All 10 episodes from the first season are included. With the sole exception of "The Greater Good", all of the episodes are extended versions including scenes that were not included in the broadcast versions of these episodes:


Fugitivus(57:34)

A Place In This World(51:59)

The Greater Good(52:37)

Empty Hands(59:02)

Libertus(55:15)

Chosen Path(55:19)

Sacramentum(56:27)

Balance(56:52)

Monsters(55:57)

Wrath of the Gods(1:00:31)


Video


Spartacus: Vengeance appears on Blu-Ray in 1080p in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio as originally filmed and broadcast on Starz. These Blu-ray discs present an excellent video presentation of the series that surpasses anything that you might have seen of this series on cable television, even in high definition. Black levels and fine detail are excellent. Since a large portion of this production involves green screen effects and digital manipulation, it pretty much goes without saying that DNR and edge enhancement are present. Given the stylish intentions of this production, and the influence by the film 300, this series is not going for a realistic look so much as a visceral presentation with garish colors and spectacular special effects.


Audio


The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks deserve credit for placing the viewer in the sonic center of the action, whether it be the sounds of revelry or of battle. The sound mix is well done with dialogue appropriately audible over music and the ambience of sound effects.


Special Features


There is a wealth of special features which include all of the following:


Commentaries: Eight of the ten episodes have commentaries included as follows:

Fugitivus(Executive Producer Steven S. DeKnight and actors Viva Bianca, Lucy Lawless, and Liam McIntyre)

A Place In This World(Executive Producer Steven S. DeKnight and actors Lucy Lawless, Liam McIntyre, and Peter Mensah)

The Greater Good(Executive Producer Robert Tapert and actors Lucy Lawless and Craig Parker)

Empty Hands(Executive Producer Robert Tapert, director Mark Beesley, Visual Effects Art Director Peter Baustaedter, and actor Viva Bianca)

Libertus(Director Rick Jacobson and actors Liam McIntyre)

Chosen Path(Executive Producer Steven S. DeKnight and actors Viva Bianca, Lucy Lawless, and Nick E. Tarabay)

Sacramentum(Executive Producer Robert Tapert, director Jesse Warn and actor Dustin Clare)

Wrath of the Gods(Executive Producer Steven S. DeKnight and actors Viva Bianca, Lucy Lawless, and Liam McIntyre)


The following featurettes are also included in high definition on disc 3:


Starz Studios - Spartacus: Vengeance(11:57): This is a promotional trailer with interviews, episode footage, and behind the scenes footage that aired originally on Starz to advertise this season.


The Making of Spartacus: Vengeance(5:32): Brief featurette with footage behind the scenes.


Behind The Camera: Directing the Rebellion(4:32): Director Michael Hurst discusses the episodes he directed this season.


On Set With Liam McIntyre(6:36): The new Spartacus talks about his role.


Burning Down The House: The Visual Effects of Episode 205(12:28): Visual Effects Supervisor Charlie McLellan talks about a pivotal effects scene from "Libertus".


The Legend of Spartacus(11:09): Writers and producers discuss the historical inspiration for the series.


Famous Last Words(6:38): Actors discuss the death scenes prevalent in the series.


Bloopers(3:10): Short blooper reel from this season.


Spartacus: War of the Damned Trailer(0:31): Teaser trailer for the next season.


The discs come enclosed in an illustrated digi-book style case consisting of 3 pages with each "page" being a sleeve for each disc.


Conclusion


Spartacus: Vengeance on Blu-ray is a mostly worthwhile addition to the mythology of the series to date. The video and audio presentation are excellent and the set has a multitude of special features, all in high definition, for fans of the series. Spartacus: Vengeance demonstrates that this series has increased its intensity, if that is even possible, although the story elements may be weaker than in earlier seasons.  Nonetheless, Spartacus: Vengeance has arrived at the perfect moment for fans to relive this season before Spartacus: War of the Damned airs on Starz in 2013.



#2 of 3 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted November 25 2012 - 12:04 PM

Heads up, Amazon has this on their deep-discount this weekend, so you can snag it at about $17.   At that rate, it's a 100% steal, almost 70% off the list price.


This is a great, fun romp and the effects and cinematography are a blast.   But less then $20 for the BluRay set?  That's a no brainer.


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#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted November 25 2012 - 02:29 PM

I ordered it yesterday for that price, Matt.  My current plan is to use my Christmas 4 day weekend to watch the entire series...well, except for the new season which isn't on yet.







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