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SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Various

Starring:
John Hannah
Lucy Lawless
Dustin Clare
Peter Mensah
Jaime Murray

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Set before the events of “Spartacus: Blood and Sand”, “Gods of the Arena” is a prequel series that delves further into established characters' back story and gives us a new hero in Gannicus along with the rise of Crixus, long before Spartacus shows up.
Is it good movie?
Before watching Gods of the Arena, I sat down and watched the first Spartacus series. Man, I can't believe it has taken me this long to watch this show. Coming off as a blend between hardcore historical fiction and 300, this show is wicked violent, manly and packed full of passion. Lots of screaming, lots of grunting, lots of sex and buckets of guts.

I now will declare my undying love for the original series.  I thought the stories were well told, I found myself constantly looking forward to the next episode, and anyone who is a reader of this site has to love the intense level of violence shown on screen (as well as the mass amounts of nudity.)  The acting was fantastic all around, and I look forward to the next season which starts in Januar (I'm not being paid to say this honestly).  However, tragedy struck not long after the first season ended when Spartacus himself, Andy Whitfield, had to leave due to cancer treatment.  Instead of re-casting the part, they gave Whitfield time to recover by doing a prequel series, “Gods of the Arena.”

Although this series is considered a prequel, and I know everything that will happen to the characters that were previously established in the first season, this simply offers more of what I love about the show.  Character back stories are fleshed out even more and the writers did a fantastic job of creating interesting new characters, such as Gannicus, who lives for the fight but falls in love with his best friends' wife after being forced to have sex with her (racy stuff, huh?). He's played by Dustin Clare, and the guy is brilliant- he relishes every cocky, over the top moment he can and earned himself a spot in the next season, thankfully.

We discover how Batiatus inherited the ludus from his father as well as trying to rise above his lowly station in life, the rise of Oenomaus from just a simple warrior to the trainer of gladiators, Crixus starting off as a slave bought at an auction and his rise to Champion of the city.  If you haven't seen the show, I've just spit out a bunch of random names and scenarios that make no sense, but you have to believe me when I say it's worth watching.

Once again, the acting is top notch, the effects are well done and disgusting, and the women hot and ready to drop clothing at a moment's notice.  The stories are as captivating as before with every episode full of action and tragedy.  The look of the show is both gritty and beautiful at the same time.  The only bad thing I can really say is that the series is painfully short with just six episodes, but only because it's a show I love and want more of.

It's not like this show is a season full of twenty episodes, so it's hard for me to pick favorites. Instead, we're offered 6 jam-packed episodes that won't let you down. The whole thing is a compelling ,barbaric and intense spectacle that's tough to ignore. If you love Blood and Sand, you're really going to chow down on this one too. Don't miss it.
Video / Audio
Video comes in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and is fantastic. It really is top notch. I'd love to see the Blu-Ray.

Audio is presented in Dolby 5.1, and sounds as good as the picture looks. More great stuff.
The Extras
Starz Studios: Gods of the Arena is a typical 15 minute EPK that doesn't add a whole lot.

Weapons of Mass Destruction is just as it sounds, a fun look at the awesome weapons people bludgeon each other with through the show. Only runs a couple of minutes though.

Battle Royale: Anatomy of a Scene is exactly what you think, a peek into the development of the massive staged arena clash that takes place in the final episode. Another cool addition, runs about 6 minutes.

On Set with Lucy Lawless is a documentary about how to run a marathon in the wintertime. Are you paying attention? Here you get to see Lucy Lawless run through some of the more dull activities of her day. This runs about 7 minutes.

10 Easy Steps to Dismemberments is a wonderful, albeit brief look at the vicious kills this show serves up. Really nice, but only 2 minutes long.

Post Production: The Final Execution is a 7 minute piece about adding effects, music cues and stuff like that to the show before publishing it.

Enter the Arena is a quick look at how the city was designed in comparison to the way it looked in the other show. It runs about 4 minutes.

Dressed to Kill takes 7 minutes to discuss costumes and wardrobe, while Convention Panel is a quick visit to Comic Con with the show's creators and main cast as they field questions.

5 Minutes of Arena Bloopers finish off the set.

Last Call
This is a fantastic DVD set of a great show packed with great extras.  Just like the last season, Gods of the Arena is awesome and you should watch it now.  (Sadly Andy Whitfield lost his fight to cancer this past September 11. You will be missed, Spartacus.)
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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