THE PLOT THUS FAR
The House of Batiatus has towered above the city of Capua for many years. Spartacus: Gods of the Arena will explore its deadly history before the arrival of Spartacus, and the death he carried with him. Loyalties will be tested, lives shattered, and battles waged in this thrilling prequel to Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is the prequel to Spartacus: Blood and Sand and much has been made – nay, it is even the crux of its marketing appeal – about the amount of blood-soaked violence and sweaty sex featured. And it is true that the portrayal of blood, in all that slow motioned slicing, stabbing, carving and flaying of the unfortunate humans on the receiving end, is high on the fetish scale. To defend yourself or kill your opponent in Roman times you needed to be prepared to get your hands bloody, have enough strength, moral inclination and willpower to drive that steel into another human body, and be ready to deal with the splattering and gurgling consequences. And that’s what we viewers have to deal with too: the sight and sounds of an arc of blood flying slo-mo through the air, a standard image sequence in each episode, has all the qualities of a moneyshot.
The necessity to produce these scenes is important in fostering the time-period’s stance of sexual openness. The costume range is great; the rich are adorned with lavish jewelry and a colorful, flowing wardrobe which is artistically chosen, and for the poor, well sometimes they are left with nothing. The gladiators are especially left without much clothing, but the armor they do wear is often demonic, intimidating and everything you would naturally expect to find on a person when they are fighting to the death!
The fight scenes are well choreographed and blood is everywhere! The array of weapons to choose from, the differences in fighting styles, the varying levels of fighting skill all make for interesting battles in the arena. Also, bear in mind that the arena is not only for physical fighting, but the political fold is the pressing force behind the fights. Basically, it is more than just a fight, what you see is not entirely what you get. The fight’s value is difference for the gladiator, than it is for the crowd, than it is for the owner’s of the gladiators; and, these differences are excellently contrasted. The graphics are not top-notch, but it adds a stylistic element to the show. The blood is vibrant and sometimes seems to defy physics–it’s great! The acting is intense and the director seems to strive away from being “natural” which is good. The intensity is not monochromatic and individual to each characters personality.
The Blu-Ray comes with a 3D battle sequence, commentaries and extended cuts of all six episodes as exclusives to the HD set. The featurettes, blooper reel and related materials are fun, but they all seem a little sad in light of recent news about the series star. The 1080p transfer is pretty strong, but the DTS-HD master audio track is damn near reference quality. I’d recommend pairing it with the first series for new fans. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.
RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!