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VINE VOICEon April 2, 2012
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
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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.
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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.
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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.....
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on December 13, 2012
I watched the 10-episode season of Spartacus: Vengeance. What an amazing story. I won't give too many spoilers, but in many ways, this is the best season of Spartacus yet.

If you're new to the series, you can start with Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. That's the prequel they filmed when series star Andy Whitfield got sick.

Andy had filmed the original series, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, which got everything off to an impressive start. Co-stars John Hannah and Lucy Lawless were brilliant, the entire cast was top-notch, and the story-line was epic. Blood and Sand ends in a rebellion that claims the lives of Hannah's and Lawless' characters, and the story was set to boil over into the next season.

Then Whitfield came down with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He took time off to fight his disease. In a stroke of genius, the show's creators decided to show what happened at the gladiator school BEFORE Spartacus arrived. We were introduced to MORE amazing actors and characters, and Hannah and Lawless got to explore depths of their treacherous yet devoted characters that are some of the best roles written for anybody - ever. Gods of the Arena is really the story of Hannah and Lawless' characters, and their incredible scheming.

Sadly, Whitfield lost his battle with lymphoma. So when it came time to cast the next season, Spartacus: Vengeance, the show's producers picked Liam McIntyre, who looks a lot like Andy. Stunt-casting like that usually fails, and Liam plays a more warm, less cold-blooded Spartacus. This will rub some viewers as wrong, but if you accept that personal growth is a big part of the story, it actually works.

Spartacus: Vengeance takes place after the events of Spartacus: Blood and Sand so is called "season 2" in a move that will confuse many viewers. The producers sweetened the plot by bringing back Lucy Lawless' character, Lucretia. Though she seemed dead at the end of "Blood and Sand," they found a way to bring her back, totally mad after the events that saw her house, marriage and life ruined.

Spartacus: Vengeance tells the story of the early stage of the Spartacan rebellion, or Third Servile War. And there is enough intrigue, back-stabbing, and plot twists to keep you on the edge of your seat. If you liked Lucretica's scheming, just wait till you see what Ilithyia, played by Viva Bianca, gets up to. The ending is both horrific and satisfying, and makes this the role of Lucy Lawless' career. Xena, Shmeena!

Vengeance is a season in which most characters ask themselves: "What's next?" For Spartacus, it's "What's next after I pull off a slave rebellion?" His answer is a quest to find love with Mira (maybe) and definitely vengeance on Glaber, the Roman senator who first hired him as a mercenary then sold Spartacus and his wife into slavery.

for loyal Crixus, what's next is to find redemption saving Naevia -- their illicit love ended with her being sent off to the mines. Crixus is obsessed with freeing her.

For Doctore/Oenomaus, what's next is how to find honor after he's lost it all. We learn Oenomaus' backstory. You thought maybe you learned his history in the prequel, Gods of the Arena. There's a lot more to the man.

For Gannicus, the freed gladiator, what's next is finding something to live for. His character has been adrift since Gods of the Arena. Can Spartacus inspire Gannicus with new purpose?

You probably know that Spartacus is based on a real person, though very little is known about him. Gannicus, Crixus and Oenomaus were all real gladiator/rebels as well. One change is that in real life, Oenomaus was a Gaul; they make him a Nubian for the series so they could use Peter Mensah, a martial arts master who is also a masterful actor.

And I have to mention actor Nick Tarabay, who plays scheming gladiator and all-around scumbag Ashur. He's not a historical figure, but seems modeled after the character Aaron from Titus Andronicus; the character who boasted:

"I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly,
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
But that I cannot do ten thousand more"

Speaking of Shakespeare, the language of TV's Spartacus will seem Shakepearean at times. To get that effect, the writers translated Roman texts -- words and phrases -- literally and incorporated them into the scripts. The language really helps transport you to another time.

If you liked Rome, if you liked the Sopranos, consider TV's Spartacus. The show is not for kids or even teens, or anyone with a weak stomach. But it is awesome.
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on December 25, 2014
Poor Liam McIntyre had some seriously big shoes to fill. Andy Whitfield was hypnotic in his awesomeness. Liam does well, though. He doesn't have the overwhelming screen presence of Whitfield, but he's no slouch. After an episode or two he really starts to feel like Spartacus. He brings the right amount of fire to the role.
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on September 17, 2012
I absolutely LOVED the first season of Spartacus, LOVED IT! My wife and I smoked through the first season box set like a wood chipper on crack! The second season will not disappoint the fans either. It's a shame the lead actor (Spartacus) passed due to cancer and couldn't shoot season two. He will be missed, he nailed the role perfectly. That being said his replacement made the transition seem near seamless. It certainly could have been a lot worse.

I didn't feel as invested in season two as season one, but that is nit picking. I still tore through the box set in two days and would have been happy with ten more episodes.

Worth every penny.
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on November 8, 2014
Spartacus - AWESOME - what else is there to say. Buy all 3 season plus the prequel. Andy was superb as Spartacus, very sad about his death, but I though Liam did an outstanding job once he got his bearing after the first episode or 2. Glad the show was able to continue.
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on December 16, 2015
A story that will hold as long as there are stars in the sky SPARTACUS taken age the age of 9 from the GREEK province of Thrace & it was this Special person that never yielded to Slavery & preferred to Die on his feet a free man than live on his knees as a slave. If you should visit Rome do enter collosseam & you will see a wall plack that says Never forget SPARTACUS & there is a great depiction of SPARTACUS on one side & of the Romans on the other. I said this before & I will say it Again God Rest your Soul Andy. One of the very best series Blood & Sand Got em all twice from Amazon Gave one set as a Gift.
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on July 25, 2015
Look I watch allot of Tv and Movies, there are certain movies like Jaws, Gladiator, Forrest Gump that you can watch over and over. You know the ones. In my estimation Spartacus is the best Tv series ever and by quite a margin. I do love Breaking Bad, Walking Dead and all the usual suspects of best shows ever. But Spartacus is one I will be watching over and over. Just finished watching the whole thing for the second time. Might be a yearly endeavor. Be warned if you don't like nudity, blood, action, love, male bonding over war and everything else real men and real women love tune into the Hallmark Channel. Otherwise tune into best Tv Ever and I am jealous that I do not get to experience Spartacus for the first time again!
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