Gods of the Arena is a
six episode long prequel series to the hit
television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Both series were
Steven S. DeKnight (who also serves as one of the series writers). The
production was planned due to the unforeseen illness of Andy Whitfield
the leading star of the series). As of the time of this writing, it has
announced that he has passed away of lymphoma at the very young age of
will undoubtedly miss him and his family will miss him even more. There
easy way to fully express the passing of someone. May his fans pray for
loved ones and may he rest in peace.
the Arena focuses
on a number of returning characters and a couple
of new ones. The prequel places its largest emphasis on Batiatus (John
he tries to come into power and earn the respect of his father in the
(Lucy Lawless) is the wife of Batiatus and together the pair will
tide of the arena battles with the constant winner Gannicus (Dustin
for his own sense of honor and freedom. The House of Batiatus becomes
known amongst the other houses and brings greater success to Batiatus
help of the mysterious Gaia (Jaime Murray), who forms her own unique
relationship with Lucretia. Can the House of Batiatus rein supreme? Can
Gannicus remain the champion of the arena? These and other questions
explored in the six episode arc.
is undoubtedly one of the greatest strengths of the entire production
of the reasons why viewers keep coming back for more Spartacus.
storylines can be a bit hit and miss from time to time (at least at
glance) but the dialogue and well-developed characters manage to keep
intriguing. Some of the plot-lines do seem a bit over the top (and
right at home on a soap opera -- although that is somewhat doubtful
the content). The biggest surprise is that the storylines actually
build in a
way that seemingly unnecessary moments become very important in later
affect the entire show. This element makes the entire experience of
to this story a bit more satisfying by the time the series has
how it might even seem while viewing a given episode on its own
element of the series behind-the-scenes that plays a dramatic role in
is the series direction. Each director brings a unique sensibility to
tell the story while also maintaining a consistent enough vision that
series flows as a whole and doesn't seem creatively out of tune. The
approach to the series is definitely more artistic than standard
fare as each episode feels more like a mini-movie (or even like a
chapter of a longer
film). The acting remains uniformly great (a definite sign of the solid
direction), while the pacing and visual approach is appropriate for the
and quite compelling.
Loduca manages to impress as the series composer and each episode seems
many interesting themes that fit both the characters and thematic
the material. Great television music seems to be quickly becoming a
phenomenon. This is another example of fine musical qualities improving
scope and scale of a TV show.
production, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena stands as one of the
ambitious on any channel on television. The production design clearly
how large-scale the entire effort has been for everyone involved. The
detailed, the costumes seem authentic, and the make-up is always
Each episode is also complimented by amazing special effects work that
greater detail and depth to the already impressive set designs. This is
production that consists of strong work from many individuals in so
different departments of film-making. It's clear that a strong team
effort is often
emphasized on the show.
Gods of the Arena is not
always the easiest series to watch. The
violence and sex is quite frequently graphically depicted and it will
disturb many viewers (as many elements did for this particular viewer).
violence on the show, in particular, is often bloody and disturbing.
fight sequences were designed to be large in scale - which they are -
are sometimes just a bit too gruesome and it will detract for many
a shame considering the intricate plot-points would be worthy of even
viewers than the show already pulls in.
works as both a prequel to the previous Spartacus series and
introduction to new viewers. There are a few elements that might be
a result - one particular element is a major one - but the show
its own in a way that it does allow for new viewers to begin here. Spartacus:
Gods of the Arena won't appeal to everyone but for fans
interested audience members it might just surprise as a better made
one might expect. The series has elements that are actually thought
(which is always a plus). The acting on the series is phenomenal. It
well be the best thing about the entire show. In the end, there are
elements that succeed during this Spartacus prequel and that
helps to make
it worth watching despite some shortcomings and qualms that some
Gods of the Arena arrives
Blu-ray in High Definition 1080p using the original television
ratio of 1.78:1. This AVC MPEG-4 encode is a showstopper that offers
color reproduction, solid black levels, crisp photography, and a
stylized look that seems right at home on the High Definition format.
was clearly filmed using great technologically advanced cameras and it
almost as pristine as the format will even allow. In a word: Superb.
audio is no slouch either and will satisfy serious aficionados with a
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound offering. The sound mix is well
developed and it
will immerse viewers into the sounds of the arena and all the other
this action-drama. Each episode of Spartacus:
Gods of the Arena features strong audio clarity that properly
the dialogue in a way that is easy enough to understand and follow
for the surrounds to highlight the music score by Joseph
Loduca and the
wide array of audio effects. Spanish
Mono is also included as an audio option. Subtitles options are also
in English for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired and in Spanish.
are a ton of bonus materials on this set and
it's difficult to imagine any fan being disappointed by the offerings.
these six episodes contains a commentary track featuring cast and crew
in addition to the following High Definition bonuses:
Studios: Gods of the Arena (14:35)
is a general making-of feature that
contains a large supply of interview materials with the series creator,
and crew. It's a good look at the thoughts and opinions of many of the
involved in making this series but it isn't a particularly detailed
can actually cram in surplus amounts of knowledge in the short run
is one extra for fans to make sure to watch either way. The interviews
of Mass Disruption (2:53)
gives some brief answers and explanations
for some of the weapons featured on the show. It's not that detailed
probably won't appeal to viewers unless they already want to know more
the types of props used in the series.
Royale: Anatomy of a Scene (5:58)
gives a rundown of one of the climatic
scenes in the series and the way in which the entire sequence was
created. It's a quick but entertaining behind-the-scenes piece that is
fascinating to watch.
With Lucy Lawless (6:29)
is the most entertaining of the bonus
materials (at least for fans of Lucy Lawless!), as getting to tour the
her for a while is pretty cool. She throws in some nice jokes for fans
too and is
just as cool as she always has been. Neat!
Steps to Dismemberment (2:14)
is a silly and annoying video that is sort
of self-explanatory with a title like that - it features video from the
and gives some details on the how/why. Definitely wish extras like this
weren't present on the set.
Production: The Final Execution (7:17)
is a wonderful look at the post production
process for the series and it features interviews and footage with some
crew that is responsible for bringing the show full-circle
interesting in this process should give this extra a look.
the Arena: Production Design (3:39)
covers the production design of the show and
the only disappointment is the short run time. It's a good inclusion
important aspect of the show.
to Kill (6:28)
features discussion over the costumes used in the series (with
both the actors and designers). It's a perfect bonus feature for anyone
likes costuming and is curious to hear a few words from the people
making the show's costumes authentic and worthwhile.
is a short edited segment featuring footage from a Spartacus Comic
Con 2010 panel. The piece features a few questions and responses from
to the creator and actors of the show. This is exactly the type of
feature more TV series sets should contain and it's a delight to see
footage preserved on this release.
is a blooper reel (as it sounds) but it isn't actually all that
funny - maybe because the series itself was never really comedic to
This is one worth skipping.
included for Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Spartacus: The Game, The
King's Speech, and Sons of Anarchy.
Battle Sequence - A sequence
presented in 3D for those who can support playback.
noting that the best extra is the fact that extended
episodes are presented on this release. Fans should
absolutely take notice of this.
Gods of the Arena is a
surprising series on many levels. It's a bit too extreme in its
times (which will turn away some viewers), but it's also a well crafted
human struggles: corruption, greed, and survival. It's not always easy
but it is well made and the writers have told the story carefully so
is a payoff for watching the entire run of episodes. Fans of the
previous Spartacus series will obviously want to
give it a chance but what's surprising is that the series can also
serve as an
introduction for viewers (barring one major
spoiler). The set contains excellent PQ/AQ and a good assortment of
materials and is housed in a fancy DigiBook-style package. Recommended.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.