145 of 159 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
54 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2012
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.
75 of 97 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.
57 of 79 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....
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.
12 of 17 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2013
Im not a writer. And so many people i will not be naming all of them, or all the writers or directors. Simply put. If you can handle blood, lots of sword fighting, very graphic violence and sex? Then there is a chance you will love this. That stuff aside, it is about what we all try to enjoy today. Our freedom. Braveheart was the same theme. Gladiator to a degree the same. Rome is using people as slaves in gladiator games and hurting and killing them and their families. Then Spartacus starts a revolution and thousands and thousands of former slaves join his cause. Spartacus had a wife. The Man in charge of the gladiators killed his wife. it takes him a season to realize it. Then all hell breaks loose and it begins. Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. That is a must see. It is what happened before Spartacus arrived. The person who was spartacus passed away sadly. Then they had to find the right replacement. while doing so, they made "Gods of the Arena". Spartacus Vengeance is just perfect. It took a while to get use to the new spartacus. They do look alike so it is really the way they approach the character that separates the two. I loved this series and i just wish they would have gone on for another season or two. If you don't mind violence and almost soft porn sex, you can enjoy the plot, and sub plots and what sparacus is trying to do for his people. He wants freedom for all. And they fight for it. I did not do this justice. But i say give this a try. But you need to start with the first one, then gods of the arena, then Vengeance, then War of the damned. Four seasons. And to me the best of top five best series of all time. You cant go wrong trying it. I gave you a very short version. You could write pages on what this is about and what they have done. Im not that good. But the series is.....
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2012
LOVED the hell out of "Blood and Sand" and "Gods of the Arena". But the second season of the Spartacus saga (or unofficial THIRD season, depending how you look at it), called "Vengeance," well, not so much. This season, the bad outweighs the good.
1) Liam Mcintyre, the actor picked as the "replacement" Spartacus, pales in comparison to the original Spartacus played by the wonderful Andy Whitfield. Liam has none of the charisma, presence, personality, physical prowess or acting skills that Andy had. And consequently, the character Spartacus is now a total bore to watch.
2) Worse yet in the actor department, the wonderful actress Lesley-Ann Brandt (who played the character Naevia in "Blood" and "Gods") left the show and was replaced by the horrendously awful actress Cynthia Addai-Robinson. Whenever Cynthia Addai-Robinson is on-screen the show is unwatchable. Her acting is cringeworthy and she seems so out-of-place in comparison to every other actor on the show. The producers of the show just could not have cast a worse actress to replace Lesley-Ann Brandt as Naevia.
3) The action "style" of the show has gotten WORSE. Instead of toning down the stupid "300" style action scenes, in this season the producers dramatically increased the irritating super slow-motion action and ridiculous looking gushing geysers of fake looking blood. At this point the show might as well just become a cartoon or video game, because the action is just that goofy looking. There's just ZERO imagination or creativity going into the fights and violence of this show now.
4) The writing was very weak this season. Seems like the writers really struggled this time out to come up with decent story lines, and the stories they did come up with mostly felt either rushed, underdeveloped, overcooked or nonsensical. For example, the Seppius and Seppia characters seemed like great new additions to the show, but both were killed off, making their additions to the show seemingly pointless. Likewise, the storyline involving hot new blonde Chadara went NOWHERE (again she was killed off before her story could develop). And Lucy Lawless' character Lucretia really felt like she had little place in the season; her character turned into a mess and really served no purpose. Also, Spartacus's tiny "army" of rebellious slaves started off strong, planning attacks and pulling off miraculous rescues of other slaves, but then mid-season they just sort of bog down at a temple and just sort of sit there waiting to get attacked for a very long period. It became boring.
5) The expected "love story" between Spartacus and Mira also seemed to be a non-starter. It never developed into anything close to a love story, and then, spoiler alert, Mira dies, killing of any chance of a love story to bloom in the next (last) season. Similarly, the relationship between Crixus and Naevia went nowhere. The roller coaster relationship between Ilithyia and Glaber was the best "relationship" in the season, especially earlier on when Ilithyia was trying to leave Glaber.
Overall, a huge disappointment. But then the standards set were SO high. "Blood and Sand" and "Gods of the Arena" are just so awesome. It's hard for any show to maintain that level of greatness.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
FINALLY! Yeah, I was one of those people who didn't have `STARZ' but DID have Netflix. Unfortunately Netflix was being stupid (or maybe it was STARZ) but for whatever reason, I was unable to stream this "season" of `Spartacus'. I had to suffer (first world suffering mind you, but still suffering) through all the FaceBook and Twitter updates from my friends and the cast members of `Spartacus'. I did well in avoiding it but it was hard, hard, hard. I didn't line up at midnight to get this DVD boxed set, but I was one of the first.
Was it worth the wait? Yes! Was I disappointed that there were only ten episodes? Hell yes! I don't follow `Spartacus' enough to know why there are only ten episodes, but finding that out was a bit of a disappointment. Despite this meager offering, the ten episodes are VERY good! And I do mean very, very, very good! There is plenty of blood, sex, drama, fighting, death, gore, skin, and intersecting story lines to keep you hooked for the ten episodes. I tried my best to space it out but I gave up after episode 2. I ran through those DVD's like a gladius through soggy intestine. The new Navia was a treat for the eyes and Ilithya is just... damn... hell hath no fury as Ilithya scorned!
I know people are obsessed with the blood, sex, and tears this show is known for but what keeps me glued is the story. (OK, OK, seeing a bare chested Mira and Naevia doesn't hurt) So many twists, so many turns, so many things you don't see coming. Our favorite characters are back and they are bathed in blood, booty, and unbreakable bonds. Do yourself a favor and pick one weekend to watch this DVD. Get it out the way... so you can watch it again.
In some strange twist of fate I was reading `Spartacus: Rebellion' by Ben Kane at the same time I was viewing this DVD. So like a female pleasure slave, I was getting it from both ends. It was very interesting to see the differences between the two. Since there is very little literature/written history on Spartacus there is a lot of room to "fill in" and embellish on the true myth that is the man. I laugh at the idiots who actually take time to form an argument about how this series isn't accurate. ARE YOU SERIOUS!?!? This is entertainment! Pure and simple!!
I truly enjoyed every episode in this DVD but my favorites were #5 and #10. Matter of fact I shouted on very loud s-bomb in the middle of #5 that pretty much woke up the house. Episode #10 I must have watched the last fifteen minutes five or six times. Not joking. All in all this was a very good DVD, but at only ten episodes calling this a season is a joke. I hope the cast and crew are given more time to really bring it home with `Spartacus: War of the Damned'.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
With Seppius killed by Ashur's men, Glaber is now free to conscript Seppius's men into his army to fight Spartacus.
Spartacus still plans to attack the port and get slave warriors from one of the slave ships. Lucius acts as a buyer of slaves and boards the slave ship while the gladiators kill the guards. They kill the slave owner and the guards and free the slaves. The captured slaves speak the language of Agron. Everyone is suspicious of the new slaves as Agron planned the raid and they believe he selected a boat with people from his own homeland to strengthen his side. The men and women are all loud, boisterous and aggressive. They do not follow orders and raid the roads for wine and supplies which betrays the location of the gladiators to the Romans.
Glaber takes one of his own slaves, his wife's favorite, and crucifies her for supposedly speaking of Spartacus which is a lie. They nail her to a cross in the center of Capua and threaten that any and all slaves who speak his name will face the same fate. There will be a growing number of people hanging in the town's gathering area.
Gannicus returns to the city and seeks to get paid for his fighting in the arena. Glaber wants Gannicus to pledge himself to his command, or else. He gives him his lost rudis and tells him to make a decision in two days. He has him guarded and if he attempts to leave Capua he is to be crucified.
Llithyia and Lucretia contrive a plot to make it look like she may miscarriage and she is bleeding. Lucretia says Llithyia must go to Rome or she will soon die because of the blood spilled by Spartacus, the gods foresee it. Ashur insists that Lucretia stay in Capua as she has such spiritual value to the people of the area....
This episode is one in which the gladiators double their number but one half of them do not recognize Spartacus as the leader. It leads to conflict and one of the best fights of the season. This is a very good episode and it builds onto the action and suspense of the story. I recommend it to you.