Spartacus: War of the Damned Blu-ray Review
STARZ’ Spartacus tells the tale of a Thracian gladiator who led his fellow slaves in an uprising from 73 to 71 BC. After the fall of Roman commander Gaius Claudius Glaber in Spartacus: Vengeance, the rebels have amassed victory after victory and struck fear in the hearts of their former masters. The legend of Spartacus has begun to spread throughout the land, causing thousands of slaves to take up arms for his cause. Roman General Marcus Crassus joins forces with Julius Caesar to take down the Bringer of Rain once and for all – and he proves to be the only man able to match the Thracian in both swordsmanship and intellect. Now Spartacus: War of the Damned has finally arrived on Blu-ray, and its ten fantastic final episodes are rounded out by a host of great features.
Spartacus: War of the Damned is an incredible final season, where every episode is stronger than the last, building towards an epic, emotional finale. Liam McIntyre continues in the role of Spartacus from Season 2, and the cast also features Manu Bennett (Crixus), Dustin Clare (Gannicus), Dan Feuerriegel (Agron), Simon Merrells (Crassus), Todd Lasance (Caesar) and Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Naevia.
The picture and sound quality are quite good here. The widescreen 1.78:1 1080p image looks sharp and vivid without being oversaturated. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless audio track is phenomenal, with clear dialogue, a bombastic soundtrack and explosive sound effects that fill out the sound field – it’s sure to give your home theater system a workout.
As for the special features, there are six featurettes and Blu-ray exclusive audio commentaries, as well as extended episodes. Spartacus: The Legend Retold is essentially a primer that I’m assuming was aired prior to the season’s airing on STARZ. It tells the origins of the Spartacus show, the cast talks about their favorite moments from the series thus far, and also a bit about the transition from the Andy Whitfield era to Liam McIntyre’s take on the role. It also goes into the six-episode prequel series Gods Of The Arena, where Dustin Clare’s Gannicus took center stage to give Whitfield time off. The Price Of Being A Gladiator is a short chat with some of the cast, as they talk about how physically difficult the Spartacus boot camp is that prepares them for their roles, and how it helps them bond as a group and toughen up for their on-screen battles. They also share some insight into the multitude of injuries that they sustained while filming, from black eyes to broken ribs.
A Bloody Farewell sees the cast lamenting the end of the show, and looking back fondly on their great times spent together. The Spoils of War: Revealed goes into the visual effects and how the CGI works to elevate the show visually, beyond what would be normally possible on a stage set. Adorning The Damned sheds light on the intricate costume designs that are created for the show, and shows off some of the incredible details in the outfits that fans may have missed. The Mind Behind Spartacus is a bit of an interview with showrunner and creator Stephen S. DeNight, talking about his ideas, new characters and storyline concepts for the final season, as well as some of his favorite moments.
As with past Spartacus releases, the package is enclosed in a plastic outer sleeve, and when it is removed, the three-disk collection opens up like a book. The inside is adorned with promotional images of the cast, and the front cover features a menacing photo of Liam McIntyre as Spartacus, with raised lettering. The ten episodes included have a total runtime of 562 minutes, and the video is not rated.
Very few shows have consistently entertained and engaged me like Spartacus has. The series has consistently, over three seasons and a prequel series, defied expectations and delivered one of the most action-packed, well-acted historical dramas ever to grace the small screen. It’s even survived the unfortunate passing of the original lead actor, the late Andy Whitfield. With many great shows having been canceled before their time, I’m glad to see that Spartacus was able to end on its own terms. The Spartacus: War of the Damned Blu-ray is a stellar presentation and package for a mesmerizing, very deserving show, and all fans of the series will definitely want to pick it up.