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5.0 out of 5 stars Spartacus Vengeance, September 12, 2012
This review is from: Spartacus: Vengeance: Season 2 (DVD)
Powerful and unforgettable -- these are the two words that immediately come to mind when trying to describe "Spartacus: Vengeance." The first one tells you about how hard it hits you while watching it and the second one is the feeling that you have after watching it. Hell, for that matter, I shall also add a third word: addictive - you just can't get enough. And if you thought that the first two installments of the series, "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" and "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," could not be surpassed, think again. The writers keep it excitingly fresh and honest.

After two seasons, for a lack of a better word ("Spartacus Vengeance" is labeled as the second season), we now find Spartacus and his fellow slaves free, after terminating Batiatus' empire. If you recall, Batiatus (John Hannah) was the mighty owner of the best gladiators in the town of Capua. However, even though the gladiators are free, they are still slaves and the Romans will do anything to get them back. This time, the Roman-in- charge and the new owner of the Batiatus house is Glaber (Craig Parker, who does a great job). Glaber, as we know, is married to Ilithyia (Viva Bianca), who barely escaped the wrath of Spartacus and his followers when they ended Batiatus' regime. In addition, it is also known that Spartacus, who was originally played by Andy Whitfield, who died at the height of his career due to cancer, was replaced by Liam McIntyre. He commands an impressive group of gladiators and slaves - both male and females --, including Crixus (Manu Bennett), Doctore (Peter Mensah), Mira (Katrina Law), Agron (Daniel Feuerriegel), and others. Spartacus keeps freeing and recruiting slaves throughout the region, always telling his people that "an empty hand can yet become a fist" and "even the mighty republic bleeds when stricken." Of course, along the way we will find new faces and the return of older ones who we thought were gone for good. There are also mutinies within Spartacus' troops, and all is done well. My favorite episode is "Libertus," number five of the season, which by itself could have been a movie. I couldn't believe my eyes while watching it and I was at the edge of my seat. What suspense! What a show! The final and tenth episode, "Wrath of the Gods," is also as good as it gets, and closes the season in a satisfying and majestic manner.

"Spartacus Vengeance" has elements of "Apocalypse Now," Hitchcock, James Bond, "The Godfather," "Caligula" (Tinto Brass' version), and more; you can see the influences on the filmmakers. The violence gets more gruesome (if that is possible) and the sex is more graphic, without being x-rated (or NR-rated?), and I have to confess that, even though I am not a fan of today's brand of violence (especially the new wave of horror movies), this series is my guilty pleasure. Ah, of course there is also the nudity - male and female - which is a delight to any sexual preference. And then there is the matter of Liam McIntyre replacing Andy Whitfield. Personally, I didn't have a problem with it, as the action and plot keeps you busy. However, that said, I was surprised by Viva Bianca's incredible range of acting on this particular season. I was also impressed by Katrina Law, who was a perfect partner for Spartacus. Both of them, I believe, stole the show from the others, including the males. Now, of course, we have to wait for what is supposed to be the final season of this spectacular series: "War of the Damned." Knowing Spartacus' end in real life, according to history and in Stanley Kubrick's film, is kind of hard to just think about it, and I hope that the filmmakers have the wisdom on how to give the series a great closure. A hint of that end is given in one of the episodes. The DVD edition includes the season's ten episodes, Starz studios used for Spartacus, a making-of feature, bloopers, a teaser for "Spartacus: War of the Damned," and much more. (USA, 2012, color, 556 min plus additional materials).

Reviewed on September 11, 2012 by Eric Gonzales for Anchor Bay / Starz Originals.
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