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200 of 217 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood And Villainy Highlight This Six Part Prequel To The Starz Sensation
When the first season of the Starz original production of "Spartacus: Blood & Sand" came to its frenzied and gore soaked conclusion, I screamed in horror as my favorite evil doers lay in pools of blood. Okay, first I was laughing delightedly at the over-the-top genius and spectacle of that last episode--but then I realized that the second season might go on without the...
Published on February 4, 2011 by K. Harris

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Definately for Adults only
Spartacus Gods of the Arena is a prequel to Spartacus Blood and Sand. I have never watched the latter so didn't know what to expect with this offering.
The first thing I've got to say after watching is that it's definately for adults only. Swearing is almost constant and there are numerous scenes in each episode with nudity and very graphic violence. This however...
Published on September 22, 2011 by Colin Brown


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200 of 217 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood And Villainy Highlight This Six Part Prequel To The Starz Sensation, February 4, 2011
When the first season of the Starz original production of "Spartacus: Blood & Sand" came to its frenzied and gore soaked conclusion, I screamed in horror as my favorite evil doers lay in pools of blood. Okay, first I was laughing delightedly at the over-the-top genius and spectacle of that last episode--but then I realized that the second season might go on without the cunning antics of Lucy Lawless and John Hannah. And that, my friends, is a scary thought--because their diabolical machinations were a principle selling point of the show! For the record, I don't know their specific fate--but visually it didn't look very promising! However, when lead Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with cancer, it left the second season upended to see what would happen. Whitfield did, indeed, have to drop out--but the series went forward with another actor cast. This delay, however, caused the creation of the six part "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" prequel. And while not as instantly compelling as its insane predecessor, the show does allow viewers to spend more time with Batiatus (Hannah) and Lucretia (Lawless)!

Set in the period prior to "Blood and Sand," "Gods of the Arena" charts the trials and tribulations as Hannah tries to maneuver his gladiator house into a position of prominence. There is a new set of political opponents, plenty of familiar faces among the gladiator ranks (including the arrival of bad boy Crixus), and a fresh faced hero of the Batiatus house. Dustin Clare as Gannicus is filled with charm and bravado--but being a gladiator star may be a short lived occupation! Those that come to the show for its action elements will be delighted by the continuous blood-letting and the vibrantly ridiculous CGI effects. Not aiming for realistic violence, one of the pleasures of these programs is the gleefully over-the-top spectacle presented within each episode. One of my favorite confrontations is a blind-folded Gannicus doing battle with a top rival in another house. The fight scenes are choreographed with gruesome precision and are always loads of fun.

Some of the soap opera drama, however, is not quite as effective as the original show. One particularly awkward moment of unnecessary histrionics comes when a married slave woman is required to have sex with Gannicus, who happens to be a friend of her husband. How much sex, debauchery, murder and perversion have we seen in the Batiatus home? I mean seriously! This little act of infidelity seems pretty minor and yet Lawless seems disturbed to have to require it and the slave weeps at the indiscretion (before enjoying it, of course). She's a slave--and slaves are tortured and abused--how much emotion am I supposed to work up because she has to have sex? It's even tender and loving!

Through it all, though, Lawless is a delight and Hannah oozes menace. Their campy villainy remains a highlight! But I've saved the best for last, "Gods of the Arena" has added an absolutely delicious new character in Jaime Murray's Gaia. Murray, who I've appreciated in everything from "Hustle" to "Warehouse 13" to "Dexter," plays a cohort of Lawless. She inhabits the role with sly malevolence and indisputable sexiness. She may be what I remember most about this incarnation of the series! If you enjoyed the original show, this should be fitful entertainment as you await the arrival of Season Two. It may not possess the madcap and operatic genius of the Whitfield story arc--but there are still plenty of depraved pleasures to be had! KGHarris, 2/11.
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83 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different, but the same, February 25, 2011
By 
Damian P. Gadal (Santa Barbara, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Gods of the Arena came about due to the illness of Andy Whitfield (godspeed on a full recovery), so in essence, this isn't part of the Spartacus: Blood and Sand story, but rather a prequel. The show, is different, and yet the same.

We've still got Quintus and Lucretia (who deserve each other) constantly plotting against all that gets in the way of their devious pursuits of fame and power. In addition, we get the back story of Oenomaus, Crixus, and Ashur, who play important roles in the Blood and Sand series.

We also get to see the building moral decline of Quintus and Lucretia through their association with Gaia, and the seedy elements she brings to the House of Batiatus.

Spartucus: Gods of the Arena exceeded my expectations, and was a wild ride well worth watching.

There are plenty of twists and turns that will keep the viewer guessing, and most often they don't turn out the way one would expect.
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88 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - but what's up with the price?!, March 5, 2011
By 
lbcaguy (Long Beach, CA) - See all my reviews
Excellent series and a great prequel that fills in back stories mentioned in Blood & Sand. And again we're left wondering about Lucretia's fate since there is still movement when they show the final scene of Blood & Sand in the beginning of Gods of the Arena.
But jeez, what's with price of the 6-episode series being almost as much as the 13-episode original season? And that's even with Amazon's 30% off...
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I gotta say..I enjoyed it more than Blood & Sand, April 11, 2011
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena begins strong and ends amazing. I enjoyed this miniseries to the fullest extent. I must say I wish it were longer than just six episodes but those six episodes are full of action, blood, sex, betrayal, everything that Blood and Sand was & more! Gannicus was a great character to have and was not as annoying as Spartacus was in Blood and Sand. This prequel to the first season presents an abundant amount of missing and unknown information from the first season which provides better understanding to what is going on, who is who, why they were or were not there in the first season and much more..The nudity, sex and goofy language is there just as it were in Blood and Sand, but I must admit I was not as put off by it as I was with the first season. By now the obscene, yet rather odd, language is quite enjoyable and laughable where as in the first season I was not to favorable of it. Naked people are all over the screen yet again, most are quite pleasing to look at though. I read that the blu ray release will contain extended episodes too much for tv as the first season did which is always a nice plus to have. I will be purchasing this on blu ray once it is released and will be purchasing Blood and Sand so that I can go back and watch it again. I'm sure I'd enjoy it much much more the second time around. I hope I've been helpful..

-Cam
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outrageous, spectacular, wonderful!, February 27, 2011
By 
Beth Rodda (Angwin, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I think we all approached this prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, with great trepidation after watching Blood and Sand. I can tell you GOTA does not disappoint. Episode 1 blasts out of the starting gate with over-the-top action and does not let up until the end credits of episode 6. The mini series answers many questions posed in B&S: What happened to Doctore's wife; how did Battiatus and Solonius come to be at odds with one another; what happened between Crixus and Ashur resulting in Ashur's injury; how did Crixis become Champion of Capua and Lucretia's lover? These questions (and others) are all answered while the writers continue to ramp up the intrigue, action and sex. Outstanding performances by Lawless, Hannah, Murray and Tarabay.

Buy this. You won't be disappointed.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood And Villainy Highlight This Six Part Prequel To The Starz Sensation, September 14, 2011
Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen the original show--the "Blood and Sand: Season One" conclusion is referenced in first paragraph.

When the first season of the Starz original production of "Spartacus: Blood & Sand" came to its frenzied and gore soaked conclusion, I screamed in horror as my favorite evil doers lay in pools of blood. Okay, first I was laughing delightedly at the over-the-top genius and spectacle of that last episode--but then I realized that the second season might go on without the cunning antics of Lucy Lawless and John Hannah. And that, my friends, is a scary thought--because their diabolical machinations were a principle selling point of the show! For the record, I don't know their specific fate--but visually it didn't look very promising! However, when lead Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with cancer, it left the second season upended to see what would happen. Whitfield did, indeed, have to drop out (sadly, he passed away on 9/11/11 at age 39)-but the series went forward with another actor cast. This delay, however, caused the creation of the six part "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" prequel. And while not as instantly compelling as its insane predecessor, the show does allow viewers to spend more time with Batiatus (Hannah) and Lucretia (Lawless)!

Set in the period prior to "Blood and Sand," "Gods of the Arena" charts the trials and tribulations as Hannah tries to maneuver his gladiator house into a position of prominence. There is a new set of political opponents, plenty of familiar faces among the gladiator ranks (including the arrival of bad boy Crixus), and a fresh faced hero of the Batiatus house. Dustin Clare as Gannicus is filled with charm and bravado--but being a gladiator star may be a short lived occupation! Those that come to the show for its action elements will be delighted by the continuous blood-letting and the vibrantly ridiculous CGI effects. Not aiming for realistic violence, one of the pleasures of these programs is the gleefully over-the-top spectacle presented within each episode. One of my favorite confrontations is a blind-folded Gannicus doing battle with a top rival in another house. The fight scenes are choreographed with gruesome precision and are always loads of fun.

Some of the soap opera drama, however, is not quite as effective as the original show. One particularly awkward moment of unnecessary histrionics comes when a married slave woman is required to have sex with Gannicus, who happens to be a friend of her husband. How much sex, debauchery, murder and perversion have we seen in the Batiatus home? I mean seriously! This little act of infidelity seems pretty minor and yet Lawless seems disturbed to have to require it and the slave weeps at the indiscretion (before enjoying it, of course). She's a slave--and slaves are tortured and abused--how much emotion am I supposed to work up because she has to have sex? It's even tender and loving!

Through it all, though, Lawless is a delight and Hannah oozes menace. Their campy villainy remains a highlight! But I've saved the best for last, "Gods of the Arena" has added an absolutely delicious new character in Jaime Murray's Gaia. Murray, who I've appreciated in everything from "Hustle" to "Warehouse 13" to "Dexter," plays a cohort of Lawless. She inhabits the role with sly malevolence and indisputable sexiness. She may be what I remember most about this incarnation of the series! If you enjoyed the original show, this should be fitful entertainment as you await the arrival of Season Two. It may not possess the madcap and operatic genius of the Whitfield story arc--but there are still plenty of depraved pleasures to be had! KGHarris, 2/11.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dead Men Walking, February 16, 2011
At first I thought that it might be difficult to write about Spartacus: Gods of the Arena without revealing major spoilers to the Spartacus: Blood & Sand series that Gods is a prequel to. But then the first episode of Gods aired and, lo and behold, the ending scene of the first series is the opening scene of the prequel.

Now in my opinion that wasn't a very smart thing to do. After all, it basically assumes that there will be no newcomers to the series, right? I mean what if you were new to the series, you watched the prequel and were drawn into Blood & Sand only to now know the fate of the main characters of Blood and Sand that took 13 episodes to reveal with one of the best and most memorable season finales that I've ever seen?!?

I don't know, but I think that's kinda sucky.

Well, spoilers aside, Gods of the Arena is excellent. Gods chronicles the bloody and lewd days of the House of Batiatus prior to the arrival of Spartacus. It introduces us to Gannicus, one of Capua's initial champion warriors; it delivers Crixus to the scene and it documents the rise of Oenomaus to Doctore. But something is missing....Ah...what's missing is the item that made Blood & Sand a 5-Star series; what's missing is Andy Whitfield and his Spartacus character.

Nevertheless, Starz has presented fans of Blood & Sand and newcomers to the series with a welcome gift with Gods of the Arena. John Hannah as Batiatus and Lucy Lawless as his wife Lucretia get a chance to reprise the roles that they excellently portrayed in Blood & Sand, and they again portray the roles with passion.

If you were a fan of Blood & Sand and you're not watching Gods of the Arena, you're cheating yourself out of a show that's almost as good as the original. And if you're new to the show, I recommend watching Blood & Sand first, then viewing Gods of the Arena so that the spoiler factor is erased.

Don't miss this excellent show.

Side note: Well wishes to Whitfield on a speedy recovery to his cancer which is why Gods of the Arena even exists. The prequel was initially formulated to hold fans over during Whitfield's recovery. But Starz recently announced that the role of Spartacus would need to be replaced (by Larry McIntyre) due to complications in Whitfield's recovery. Tragic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good, considering the circumstances, June 25, 2011
By 
Rich H. (Warren, MI USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Okay, here's a pre-review for the DVD I just pre-ordered. This mini-series is basically a stop-gap. Andy Whitfield had to leave the series due to an ongoing battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (*UPDATE* A battle which, sadly, he lost on 9/11/11. RIP.) His status was in doubt for some time, which delayed production of season 2 for several months. In the interim, DeKnight and co. took a flashback sequence intended for a season 2 episode and expanded it into a prequel mini-series. Quick and dirty...and, as it turns out, pretty darn good.

Good: The tale of the beginnings of the House of Batiatus 2.0 is right up there with Spartacus: Blood and Sand, especially the last three episodes. We see the events and circumstances setting up the beginning of _Blood and Sand_, and discover....well, no spoilers, but another member of the H-o-B turns out to be every bit as cunning and ruthless as is its Dominus...and there is a VERY good reason for it. Hannah and Lawless are even better this time around, and that's saying something after their stellar performances in the last series. Dustin Clare delivers a fine performance as champion gladiator Gannicus. The surprise standout this time around, however, is Peter Mensah, who brings a hitherto-unsuspected humanity and warmth to his character Oenomaus. Mensah and Clare have great on-screen chemistry, and I hope we'll see more of it in _Spartacus: Vengeance_.

Bad: The first couple of episodes were a little weak and slow-paced; the story takes awhile to ramp up. Also, this time around they tried a little too hard; the sex and violence did in fact become gratuitous in places. By the third episode, during yet another round of flash-cuts between the orgy in the House and the bloody battle in the arena (or elsewhere), I was yelling at the TV "WE GET IT ALREADY!" Also, oddly, the price of this 6-episode set is higher than the 13-episode Blood and Sand. What's up with that?

Ugly: No more new Spartacus until 2012.

Five stars, minus one-half each for being not *quite* as good as Blood and Sand, and the inexplicably high price. All in all, however, well worth picking up on blu-ray even after watching it first-run.

* UPDATE 7/6/11: The price suddenly dropped almost by half; still a bit high, but now reasonable for a mini-series. Putting the half-star back, and rounding up. :)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXPLICITLY ENTERTAINING!!!!!, February 19, 2011
When Spartacus, ( Blood and Sand) first started playing on the tube, I only got to see a few episodes of it. It was enough to get me interested for sure! Then between my work and the series being aired so late, I was unable to watch ALL episodes. I went to Amazon and purchased the whole series of episodes and watched them almost from start to finish! The Daytime soaps doesnt have anything on Spartacus, Blood and Sand. The action and drama will keep you in much suspense and make you want to sit it out through all 13 episodes. I must admit that I did grow bored with spartacus' morning and pining for his "wonderful" wife, but it wasnt enough boredom to stop me from watching. Maybe if they had allowed more scenes with him and her in it and let the viewer become more interested in their relationship, Spartacus' whining and pining would have been more worthwhile. Who knows. For those of you that like alot of action and drama and throw in alot of sex, these series is a must to watch and/or purchase!! I commend all the actors and actresses for a job well done. Sorry for Andy Whitfield's illness, is sad for such a young and budding actor. Can't wait to purchase Spartacus, Gods of the Arena!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gods of the arena rocks!, February 16, 2011
By 
I'm new to the series, luckily DVR'ing the first 4 episodes of Gods of the Arena, and I have to say I absolutely love it. It has captured my attention--Tullius and Vettius make great protagonists to Batiatus--and I'm impressed at the realism for the time period--examples being when Quintas Batiatus (Hannah) and Solonius use the outdoor toilets and a community wipe (hand held device) as toilet paper, or in a scene where Batiatus is brushing his teeth with a wooden toothbrush bearing bristles. The verbiage and script is rich in color and a delight to behold. A word of caution, many scenes are graphic and r-rated (or worse), so definitely view with discretion if you have children in the house. I'm going to order the Blood and Sand series to get caught up on the story.
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Spartacus: Gods of the Arena [Blu-ray]
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