141 of 155 people found the following review helpful
First, for those that may not have seen Spartacus on Starz and are looking to get into the series via DVD based on its popularity, Spartacus: Vengeance is season 2 of the show but technically the third season. After the excellent 2010 5-star season premier under the title Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Andy Whitfield who played the lead role of Spartacus tragically died of cancer. Whitfield embodied Spartacus; he was a believable, imposing, rough, tough character that made viewers feel like they were watching the real guy from circa 70 BC. His untimely illness left the studio scrambling to decide how to or if the series would continue. Ultimately the studio decided to produce a prequel that ideally would give Whitfield time to recover after treatment, but sadly Whitfield relapsed and passed shortly after production of the prequel.
The prequel was called Gods of the Arena and it was excellent. But there was something missing from Gods that made Blood & Sand the 5-Star series that it was: Andy Whitfield and his Spartacus character. So for season 2 we get Spartacus back, but was Whitfield really replaceable? Starz took a chance and went for the Whitfield look-alike with Liam McIntyre versus finding another imposing force that could also act. Yes, McIntyre does look quite a bit like Whitfield, but there is something just a little less imposing, less rough and less tough about the guy; he's a kinder, warmer Spartacus that smiled too much (and a bit smaller; he had to look up to most of his warrior co-stars). And that took away some of the believability from season 2 for me....Especially when Spartacus would break into one of his many inspirational and emotional speeches to his group of freedom fighters. It was the non-battle scenes that I was often struck by the notion that 'the real' Spartacus is gone.
So was season 2 good? Was it maybe even great? It had some great moments for sure, but had some very big shoes to fill after season 1's finale. Some of the season 2 supporting characters were certainly not as strong as season 1's. The unexpected return of Lucy Lawless definitely helped, but as good as it made the final episode of season 1, I think that the studio was ultimately kicking itself for killing off John Hannah who carried all of Gods of the Arena and co-starred more than he supported many of the Blood and Sand season episodes. (Don't worry: If you're new to the series and you watch the shows in time chronologically with Gods of the Arena first, that tidbit of info about killing off John Hannah is spoiled in the first few moments of episode 1 of Gods even though Hannah stars throughout; so thank the studio for that, not me.)
Similar to its series predecessors, Spartacus Vengeance leaves nothing for the imagination during its time period: love, battle, adultery, orgy, torture, rape, murder...it's all there in all its glory...and I mean ALL its glory. The events of Spartacus Vengeance take place after Spartacus' gang of gladiators escape slavery and form a large rebellion to strike down Roman slavery altogether.
I was still very entertained by Spartacus: Vengeance. I'm a fan, but Andy in my opinion is sorely missed. I think I'll keep watching, and according to a November 7, 2011, Entertainment Weekly article, a third season has been picked up.
Blood and Sand: 5 stars
Gods of the Arena: 4 stars
Vengeance: 3½ stars
53 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2012
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Fans of Spartacus: Blood and Sand and the prequel Gods of the Arena: Draw near, that I may break words with you.
Know this in advance: there are parts of this second season (or third, depending on how you're counting) of the Spartacus saga that _you will not like_. But the gods do not favor such thoughts! WE are for Spartacus: Vengeance, preferably on Blu-ray, which has had noticeably better picture and sound quality than the Starz broadcasts. Bend ear, and I shall give good reasons to make purchase:
- The story is on a par with, possibly even better than, Blood and Sand. It's different - how could it be otherwise? - but more complex and on a much grander scale. The same goes for the setting. Spartacus has always featured impressive camera work and CGI, and this time around it is, at times, literally jaw-dropping and downright beautiful. Much of S:V looks and feels more like a movie than a TV series.
- The cast outdoes itself yet again. Liam McIntyre takes a couple of episodes to get comfortable with the daunting job of filling Andy Whitfield's sandals, but by mid-season he's rocking Spartacus every bit as hard as Whitfield did. Cynthia Addai-Robinson takes awhile to get into her role as Naevia (replacing Leslie-Ann Brandt,) but makes up for it and then some in the final episode. All the returnees own their characters in splendid fashion, even when those characters have dramatically changed (see below.) It's very hard to pick a standout this time, but I'm going with Nick Tarabay. Yeah, Asher, who this time around is pushing his intelligence (he's smarter than he appears) and cunning (he's even more of a snake) to their limits in an attempt to gain real wealth and power. Tarabay takes what was a relatively minor character in the other series and brings him to the forefront as a downright fascinating, and in a way even tragic, figure. Where was he hiding this guy in S:B&S?
- Lucy Lawless, who takes her character Lucretia on a horrific roller-coaster ride from wife and house-mistress (with a touch of the Borgia thrown in,) to mad prophetess, to a vengeful slave's plaything, to confidante-and-perhaps-assassin of a powerful family. You'll be genuinely wondering whether she's crazy-like-a-fox, or just plain crazy, right up to the moment of the Stephen King-worthy climax in the final episode.
- "Libertus". Spartacus and his generals return to the arena in Capua one final time, and the result is the best episode of any of the three series up until this point. This and the season finale are by themselves worth the price of the entire set.
- "Wrath of the Gods". I didn't think it was possible to top the finale of Blood and Sand. They did it.
- The bonus features are all worth watching, especially the "making of" episode 5 featurette. For someone who still pictures the lights-camera-action Hollywood stereotype behind the scenes, watching 21st-century state-of-the-art "filming" with its complex battle choreography, robotic digital cameras and virtual sets is endlessly fascinating.
To be sure, there are a few problems with S:V:
- First and foremost: only ten episodes. The whole blasted thing was over and done with inside of three months. And this is weird, because there is easily 13 episodes worth of story here. As others have noted, this means that a number of intriguing plot threads (e.g. Lucretia's rescue from the ludus massacre, and the Seppia / Seppius relationship) were just barely touched upon. I assume they blew the budget on episodes 5 and 10, but still, ten episodes simply were not enough to tell this story as it should be told.
- As with S:GotA, the story starts out slow, taking a couple of episodes to ramp up. Clearly the producers' fault for spoiling us with S:B&S, which was solid from end to end. ;)
- It's clear at this point that the producers are making a conscious effort to outdo themselves sex-and-violence-wise with each new season, and in S:V it's actually become a detriment to the show. We now have the camera lingering on spilled intestines and increasingly-bizarre mutilations for no other reason than "Hey, look what our effects guys came up with THIS time!" We also have numerous scenes set in a brothel that clearly exist only to (ahem) insert sex that they couldn't work into the storyline. (This season could have been subtitled "Meanwhile, back at the whorehouse...") S:B&S proved that they can use the sex and gore intelligently to pump up an already good story. So why go all gratuitous on us now?
- Ten. Episodes. At a higher price than most other series' 22-episode seasons. (If history is any guide, however, the price will come down soon after release.)
Sum of topic: Buy it, but wait until the price comes down somewhat. Five stars, but just barely this time - the length, the price and what is now the almost overbearing sex and gore almost cost it that 5th.
74 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2012
I've not bought the blu-ray of season 2 yet but I will. I have the prequel and season 1. I'm a big fan and was devastated when I heard Andy Whitfield was ill and then died. He was perfect for this role. He was awesome. The new guy is doing ok. If he was the original Spartacus I'm thinking we'd all be saying he's awesome but Andy set such a high bar I don't think anybody could have matched or bettered him. Anyway. Season 2 in my opinion is a little different to season 1 for me. I liked seeing the gladiators being trained, fighting in the area and seeing the twisted plots unfold in the house of Batiatus. Now that season 2 is out in the open with so many different locatnions it's obviously not the same. However, season 2 has got better and better with each episode. Last Fridays.... I think episode 5... was the best episode yet! I was yelling OMG! and my girlfriend was screaming!!! really she was. When Ganacus comes back and enters the arena only to fight against....????? I was shocked! But there was so many other jaw dropping moments in this episode the 59 minutes(?) just flew by. I was mentally drained.... how often can you say that after watching a show?! It was like seeing Star Wars in 1977.... you left the theatre thinking 'wow... did I just see what I think I did....no way!' and then you'd talk to everybody you knew about it for weeks and weeks.... well my work colleagues will be getting an ear full tomorrow. This last episode was that good!
This show continues to amaze me. Half way through the season and the characters are all in place, the plots are thickening and you know the twists are coming too. I'm not a big fan of the new Navia either...the other girl was excellent.... but all in all...this second season delivers and delivers BIG. I highly recommend watching it.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The house of Batiatus has fallen and the gladiators have slain all who lived in the house. They escape and move into the woods outside of Capua. They are terrorizing the area with raids for weapons, food and supplies.
A gladiator is being chased by Roman soldiers on horseback. Spartacus leads the soldiers into a trap. A handful of gladiators kill all 8 of the soldiers and Spartacus carves a message into one of the dead Roman legion soldiers. It is Glaber's name.
Glaber is dispatched to the city of Capua. He is a praetor in the Roman senate but he is sent to get rid of Spartacus. If he doesn't go and someone else defeats Spartacus then Glaber loses face and status in the senate.
Crixus tells Spartacus of his desire to find his woman, Naevia and to free her and Spartacus gives his word to help him in his mission......
This is a great opening to this second season of Spartacus. This features a new actor in the main role this season as the original actor who portrayed Spartacus died of cancer. The new actor does a great job in the role and this first episode is full of a lot of nudity, sex and violence. If that is not your type of series then be warned.
It is very good season opener and I recommend it to you!
57 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2012
Blood and Sand was season 1
Gods of the Arena was the 6 episode prequel to Blood and Sand
Vengeance is season 2.
They decided to make Gods of the Arena to give Andy time for his cancer treatments. In all honesty, Vengeance just doesn't feel the same. I can see why they had to get Liam, since Andy died, but they replaced Lesley-Ann Brandt (Naevia) and it just isn't the same.
Trying to give Liam a chance so we'll see... not liking the new Naevia. But it's only up to the 3rd episode right now so I'm hopeful....
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2012
never have i seen a show with such great acting, action, story, and character depth. even after the tragedy of andy whitfields death the show has manage to stay strong with liam mcintyre, who i think is just as good as andy. the new arch-villains are not quite as good as batiatus and tullius from blood and sand and gods of the arena, respectively, but glaber and co are still fanstastic and the scheming among characters is as good as ever. still one of my favorite shows on tv. definitely a must-watch for any self-respecting tv fan.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2012
I've been a fan of Spartacus since the first episode of the show. Once you are introduced to the characters in the Ludus you get to see just how deep and fleshed out each character is. Spartacus goes from a hot headed Thracian, to obedient champion of Capua, to the leader of a renegade group of warriors fierce enough to go against the roman empire.
Andy Whitfield's illness and eventual death put the show on hiatus. While they were waiting for his recovery they already had Liam McIntyre picked out with Andy's approval to continue on with the show if he was unable. They also released a prequel to the first season called Gods of the Arena which introduced us to even more characters and further developed the history of the Ludus we see so much of in the first season. The first seasons were fantastic and this continues the trend.
Andy left some Titan sized shoes to fill but Liam has stepped up so far and delivered a great performance. So much has changed since the fall of the house of Batiatus and sworn enemies are now true brothers, and visa versa. Spartacus is now fighting for more than just his own life as he becomes a paragon for the enslaved populace of Rome.
He vows to free all slaves, he vows to fight against Praetor Claudius Glaber, and he vows to have his vengeance.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2012
Like so many I loved Blood & Sand, and Gods of the Arena. However, I felt that this season lacked so much from the previous two Seasons. The storylines were rushed and left you scratching your head. There several frayed ropes that left you hanging for more. Liam, I'm sure is a fine actor, but lacks the compassion/conviction in his facial expressions that Andy (RIP) possessed. I found his acting a little dull in this role, and forgot about his character alot throughout. That's a bad thing when you forget about Spartacus' role in a Spartacus series.
There was just too much going on at once and the plots were a little too telegraphed. I knew what was going to happen before it happened. Not nearly as suspensful as the first two seasons. Lots of creatve ways to die though.
Lucy (F)Lawless was great as usual. I think they could have done more in 2-3 more episodes and sewn up some of the loose ends and character development; such as Sepius & Sepia, Nasir and his long lost Syrian brother, the Egyptian. I also hope that Liam can delve into character and get his exressions going for Season 3. I want more compassion/conviction/animal-survivor instinct...please!!
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The most obvious complaint one could broach about this third season of SPARTACUS (subtitled VENGEANCE) is the portrayal of the titular character by Liam McIntyre. Most fans are still not yet removed far enough from the terribly tragic passing of Andy Whitfield, who played the character with perfection. Most haters of this season say that McIntyre is just not on the same level as Whitfield. Is there truth to that? I think that there is, but it's less about McIntyre's actual abilities as an actor, which are considerable, and more about how much we miss Andy. Liam had some huge shoes to fill, and he knew going in that he was going to get a lot of flak from fans of the show.
Now, I'm not the biggest fan of this series there ever was, but I will admit to my addiction to it. I find this season similarly entertaining and similarly predictible to the first two "seasons" of this show, but I was surprised to find that once Liam had been in a few episodes, I felt that it easily could have been him all along, which is certainly NO disrespect to Andy. I will also admit that McIntyre is a little wooden and not as emotional as Whitfield's Spartacus, but that is because this season holds less for Spartacus from an emotional standpoint than BLOOD AND SAND did. Part of Spartacus is already dead in this season, not only through the way that his relationship with Mira is portrayed, but also through his disregard of his own life as he seeks to strike at Glaber in any way he can. The role, and not McIntyre, is wooden. This is what's demanded of him; a role as steel-and-battle-forged leader to the fugitivus he now commands that look to him for leadership and counsel. Solemnity is required of the role now. That, and the uncanny ability to cleave head from Roman neck with a single blow.
What is also a common complaint is that this show, while being extremely entertaining, rarely gives us anything that is truly surprising. We have a set amount of characters that we know nothing is going to happen to, and everyone else is pretty much the equivalent to a STAR TREK "red shirt". If we get to know them at all, it's for about five minutes. This is true. The show is very formulaic, but when it does break out the surprises, they're pretty mouth-gaping.
Another common complaint is that this is essentially a mashup of Ridley Scott's GLADIATOR, Zack Snyder's 300, and HBO's brilliant ROME... with a heaping helping of late-night Cinemax for good measure. If you're coming to this show for truly original entertainment, you've looked at the wrong place. There is much politicking in this show, but not as clever or as strongly written as ROME. There is also a feeling that this show acquired its entire visual aesthetic from 300 with a lot or fast-slow-fast fights, dark-light-dark color palette and lots of slo-mo explosions of blood. This is true as well and I invite debate on that point (but only civil debate, please). And as far as GLADIATOR goes... well, that's just from a plot standpoint and somewhat rehashed plot is hardly worth criticism.
Another common complaint was that of a new Naevia, played not by Leslie-Ann Brandt, but Cynthia Addai-Robinson. This is a much different Naevia than was portrayed before, and with good reason. But the skill is there and she makes a fine addition to the cast.
Another common complaint is the dialogue which seems unnatural and overly polished with poetic license. To that I say... close mouth. This is a highly stylized show and it greatly benefits from having equally stylized dialogue.
I don't think that any of the great creative minds that created this series, from Steven S. DeKnight (formerly of the Whedon posse and SMALLVILLE) to Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, were ever looking to reinvent the wheel here. They took a risk on a somewhat serious show that week after week offered extremely handsome men, extremely beautiful women, and orgiastic showerings of bloody deaths and wild sex. I do think that they do a good deal of justice to the Rome that was, but I'd be more apt to ask a historian about the show's accuracy.
Simply put, this is a very entertaining, and occasionally very smart, show with more than enough to keep even the most jaded fan coming back for more.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2012
I would like to begin this review by saying that I am a big fan of the first season as well as its prequel season of Spartacus. Also, the point of this review is to help inform people who like the show, but have not watched this season as of yet, of the changes between this season and seasons past.
There are a few notable differences between Vengeance and its predecessors. Most notably, Andy Whitefield has been replaced by another actor due to his untimely death. I feel that this change, while unavoidable, was a major detraction. The emotion of the character, Spartacus, is just not on the same level as Andy's performance. Aside from the lead actor, another prominent role has been re-cast, and again not for the better. Naevea has been replaced by someone who is once again, not right for the role. The scenes between her and Crixus have even made me not like his charatcer this season.
In addition to the bad acting and bad casting, the writing seems to have gone WAY downhill. What brought this about I do not know. All I do know is that this season is a MAJOR disappointment to myself, and I know more than a few others. Judging by the four star average on here, people seem to have liked this season, but I felt I needed to add my own opinion on Vengeance. For any of you thinking about buying this, find a way to watch one or two episodes from this season before spending $30 on the show.