Betrayed by the Romans. Forced into slavery. Reborn as a Gladiator. The classic tale of the Republic’s most infamous rebel comes alive in the graphic and visceral new series, Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Torn from his homeland and the woman he loves, Spartacus is condemned to the brutal world of the arena where blood and death are primetime entertainment. But not all battles are fought upon the sands. Treachery, corruption, and the allure of sensual pleasures will constantly test Spartacus. To survive, he must become more than a man. More than a gladiator. He must become a legend.


Spartacus (Andy Whitfield) is betrayed by a Roman general and sold into slavery to Lentulus Batiatus (John Hannah) to train at his ludus gladiatorius in Capua, Italy. Ultimately, Spartacus must fight for his freedom and his wife’s (Erin Cummings). Lucy Lawless co-stars as Lucretia, Batiatus’s wife, in this bloody, twist-filled Starz television series in which corruption, treachery and action reign while one man’s journey unfolds. Spartacus has everything that today’s public truly desires: violence, sex and a good story, ironically the same things we desired back in the Roman times when the sand was wet with blood in the arenas. And Spartacus is better than other productions that offer the same because Spartacus simply offers ten times more of it. The episodes do not drag on trying to stretch the material beyond its worth, like most other shows do. It is intense. The show warns at the beginning that it is simply violent because it is trying to portray realistically the life in Roman times.

Spartacus fought as a Roman auxiliary in the wars waged against Mithridates in Asia Minor. His later military exploits are suggestive of a high education and training in military arts, strategy and tactics. In one regard Maximus/Spartacus are the same: the general that became a gladiator. The historical Spartacus was by far not only a mere skilled fighter, survivor of the gutters of Rome as portrayed in the show. This speculation in the first season about the “creation” of Spartacus the leader makes me very curios how the show will continue given the offered setup.

Some people mock the characters for being “one-dimensional” and demand more complexity. Others have voiced their contempt of the less than accurate representation of “the complex social system of Rome”. Spartacus: Blood and Sand does not seek to represent the social system. For the people at the bottom of the ladder it was irrelevant whether Sulla was killing senators or Pompeus was gaining power. As for the one-dimensional characters, let me pound the obvious and say this – when you have to kill a friend at the command of your master, or be killed as well, there’s no possibility for inner struggle or soul searching. You can’t really disobey your master when humiliation, rape, torture and death lie just a whim away.

The Blu-Ray comes with a ton of featurettes and various looks behind-the-scenes. You even get the usual deleted scenes and bloopers. While you shouldn’t expect the commentaries to be fact laden, they do match the enjoyment factor present on other Raimi productions. The Blu-Ray does get one exclusive. Producer Rob Tapert personally selected four extended episodes to be included on this set. Enjoy the extra blood and guts with these episodes littered throughout the release. The A/V Quality is among the best I’ve seen for a TV on DVD release this year. The 1080p transfer is amazingly pristine, while the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio stands as testament to Starz expert audio handling. I’d recommend it for a blind buy.


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