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Spartacus: Gods of the Arena Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Running Time: 347 Mins.
  • Discs: 2 (2 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 13, 2011
  • List Price: $49.99

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Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena (2 Disc) -

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:4/5]

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena arrives as the “prequel” to Starz’ original series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and as I write this, it comes after a morning where I heard the news that that original series’ lead actor, Andy Whitfield, has passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He will surely be missed, as he played his role in the series as Spartacus well and those who knew him say he was a very fine man indeed.

Gods of the Arena goes backwards in time; where the previous season ended with the gladiator uprising and Batiatus (John Hannah) and his wife Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) slain at their hands, they are once more are alive in Gods of the Arena. The series seeks to tell the story of how the house of Batiatus rose to the prominent position in the arena where they stood during Blood and Sand, through devious manipulations, violence, and of course, bloodshed. It is before Solonius (Craig Walsh Wrightson) and Batiatus were enemies. The house has a different champion in the brash, but highly effective gladiator Gannicus (Dustin Clare), but Batiatus and his aging father cannot agree on how to run the ludus. So, Batiatus must find a way to get his father out of the way and secure a spot in the games at the new arena that is just being erected.

All of that intrigue is fine, but let’s not fool ourselves, this series is one guilty pleasure that we (and apparently Starz and the producers) all know what folks are tuning in for – to see lots of blood and lots of beautiful naked bodies. Gods of the Arena doesn’t disappoint on either count, kicking (or is that kinking?) it way up to 12 from the very first episode and bringing in the beautiful Jaime Murray (TV’s Dexter; TV’s Warehouse 13) as Lucretia’s friend Gaia to help spice things up. There’s enough skin here for guys and gals to enjoy – a virtual (and not so virtual) orgy of carnal naughtiness that will keep the series firmly at its 10 PM time slot.

The Blu-ray edition also arrives with all but one of its 6 episodes in an extended form to give you even more of the risqué scenes and brutal battle sequences you love.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Gods of the Arena is captured in high definition on Panavision Genesis cameras at 1080p/24 and it arrives on Blu-ray at that resolution in an AVC/MPEG-4 encodement from Anchor Bay Entertainment. The image doesn’t have a very film-like appearance as some HD productions can tend to do, but it still looks good with sharp foreground details, good contrasts, and natural flesh tones. Video noise is not an issue, except in places where it has obviously been ramped up as a visual effect. Shadow detail is pretty strong as well as is the overall color reproduction and black levels which are deep, but not absolutely inky.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is an aural feast. It has deep, resonant bass tones and is rather aggressive, surrounding listeners in a capsule of sound that really comes to life whenever we are taken into the arena. Crowd noises, the clatter of steal on steal are all pinged around the room. But not to worry, the mix can be very subtle as well, picking the silent crackle of fire or the patter of footsteps in the distance.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Disc 2 holds all of the supplements, including a special treat for owners of 3DTVs and Blu-ray players, a special 3D version of the finale’s “Ring of Fire” battle sequence. Additionally, there are numerous featurettes delving into the series’ production, all provided in 1080p.

The supplements provided with this release:

  • 3D “Ring of Fire” Battle Sequence (1.78:1; 1080p/24; MVC (3D); 00:05:35)
  • Featurettes:
    • Starz Studios: Gods of the Arena (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:14:35) – A promotional view of the series from Starz.
    • Weapons of Mass Disruption (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:53) – A look at the series’ weaponry and choreography.
    • Battle Royale: Anatomy of a Scene (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:58) – A look inside Gods of the Arena‘s final arena battle.
    • On Set with Lucy Lawless (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:06:29) – Lucy Lawless gives a tour of her on set activities.
    • 10 Easy Steps to Dismemberment (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:14) – A quick look at some of the more gory sequences of the series.
    • Post Production: The Final Execution (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:07:17)
    • Enter the Arena: Production Design (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:03:39) – A discussion of the design of the new arena in Gods of the Arena.
    • Dressed to Kill (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:06:28) – A discussion of the costume design for Gods of the Arena.
    • Convention Panel (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:57) – A Q&A with the cast and creators of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena at Comic Con 2010.
    • Arena Bloopers (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:13)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is one of the best guilty pleasures on television. One does wonder, however, where they can take this franchise next, now that they’ve done the original and a prequel series. In any case, this Blu-ray set looks and sound great and is loaded with an abundance of HD extras making it a good purchase if you’re a fan.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004HW7JMY[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena (2 Disc) -

Purchase Spartacus: Gods of the Arena on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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