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69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Watch closely... This is how history is made!"
I caught up with the first series of "Rome" via DVD, enjoyed it and impatiently awaited the next chapter. Thankfully, its second outing did not disappoint! In fact, I found this series much more satisfying that its predecessor. The acting is once again first rate, as are the sets, costumes and the writing. And whilst Rome most definitely has its share of horrific moments...
Published on 24 July 2007 by Sasukle

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rome- The Complete second season
This, though an elaborate and well acted piece of Roman mis history, was not as down and dirty as the First seies. It had much of the tale of Anthony and Cleopatra almost as the history books would have it, but some lent heavily on Shakespeare. Still it was well worth the viewing. I wil be back to it in about a years time I would think.
Published on 20 Sep 2009 by PJJ Ryan


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69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Watch closely... This is how history is made!", 24 July 2007
This review is from: Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
I caught up with the first series of "Rome" via DVD, enjoyed it and impatiently awaited the next chapter. Thankfully, its second outing did not disappoint! In fact, I found this series much more satisfying that its predecessor. The acting is once again first rate, as are the sets, costumes and the writing. And whilst Rome most definitely has its share of horrific moments (a man getting his tongue bitten out being just one), there is always great humour to bring light to the darkness.

The only thing this series suffers from is almost too much action. Originally the show was meant to run for multiple seasons, but a dwindling budget put paid to that and thus years' worth of stories had to be squeezed into just 10 episodes. As a result, the programme moves at breakneck speed, often spanning years per episode; skip just one installment and you could be left very confused indeed. The love affair between Mark Antony and Cleopatra for example, would have benefited from a lot more screentime than the handful of episodes that were devoted to it.

The beginning of the season also suffers a mild post-Caesar (Ciaran Hinds) hangover in parts. He was the man (it seems strange to label Caesar a 'character') who so much of the action revolved last series and so the show feels a little fragmented this time around. In his place, the programme-makers have divided our attention, focusing on the power struggle between Mark Antony (a show-stealing James Purefoy) and Octavian Caesar (first played by Max Pirkis and later Simon Woods). Unlike last series' tussle between Caesar and Pompey, where I believe the audience was naturally bound to take the former's side, the battle between Antony and Octavian is not so clear cut. We are both repelled by each of them and their actions but can also feel pity for them, at different points. For the record, I was always in Antony's camp but that might have something to do with Purefoy's charismatic performance.

I feel like I have written an essay instead of a review, my apologies! And I haven't even mentioned Pullo (Ray Stevenson) or Vorenus (Kevin McKidd), Rome's pleb princes. They're both back too and as fantastically portrayed as ever. My advice is to do yourself a favour and buy these DVDs. TV this compelling is hard to find.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what have the romans ever done for us? well..., 30 Jun 2007
By 
Adam Benyon (soton, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
i have only seen a few episodes from the new series, and by god they haven't lost direction! far from it, the new series has taken a much moodier turn, with a turn around for many of the characters, pullo and vorenus in particular swapping roles to some degree, with the latter becoming more violent and unpredictable as he comes to terms with his new career in "politics". with the of caesar, a power vacuum is left in his wake, resulting in the growing collapse of his household, promising some uncomfortable rivalries between antony, octavian and the senators. with many of the original cast returning, along with new situations and conflicts, this season promises to deliver, perhaps even more so than the original, if only because of the uncertain period of history in which the action transpires.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent conclusion to the story, 26 Jan 2009
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
The year is 44 BC. Julius Caesar is dead, assassinated by a cadre of senators led by Brutus and Cassius. The Julii and Caesar's ally Mark Antony prepare to flee, but Caesar's newly-anointed heir Octavian discovers a legal loophole that forces Brutus to agree to a reconciliation. Unfortunately for the conspirators, the popular mood in Rome swings decisively against them and they are forced to flee. When Octavian and Antony are divided by their own disagreements, the scene is set for a devastating three-way civil war which will eventually culminate at Philippi, one of the greatest battles in Roman history.

Meanwhile, former centurion-turned-politician Lucius Vorenus has seen his family torn apart by betrayal and treachery. Whilst Titus Pullo tries to save his friend's soul, Vorenus is placed in command of the Aventine Collegia and told to keep the peace between the warring criminal gangs. At the same time, the arrival in Rome of Timon's brother coincides with a rise in Jewish nationalism.

Rome's second season picks up at the moment Season 1 ends, with Caesar dead, Vorenus devastated by his loss and the Republic in danger of falling apart into anarchy. Given that the entire storylines for the second and planned third seasons had to be compressed into one season, and only ten episodes at that, the second season moves forward decisively and rapidly. The second season covers a period of fourteen years, and several times multiple years elapse between episodes which makes the season flow slightly less well than the first. In particular, the intrigue between the factions is covered in less depth and Vorenus and Pullo's storyline is to some extent separated from that of the political story, meaning that the Rosencrantz & Guildenstern-like angle from the first season is also diluted although the stories do converge decisively in the final two episodes. Timon's storyline is also given a rather unsatisfactory resolution due to this compression, which is a shame as his 'redemption' from a simple thug in Season 1 into someone with a moral conscience is one of the unsung triumphs of the second year.

Despite this haste, the series remains gripping and compelling viewing. Particularly amusing is the way that politics is depicted as one of the forms of entertainment of the day and how the notable unlovable Octavian wins popularity by surrounding himself with a 'next generation' of young, handsome but capable figures such as Agrippa and Maecenas, and arranges a crowd-pleasing marriage to the young, beautiful and intelligent Livia. These new actors fit into the tapestry of the series very well: Simon Woods replaces Max Pirkis to portray the adult Octavian and does a brilliant job portraying the cold, logical future Emperor, Alex Wyndham is excellent as the debauched Maecenas and Alice Henley is clearly relishing playing the twisted Livia. However, Allen Leech has the most challenging role playing the bumbling, well-meaning Agrippa who serves as Octavian's conscience, and hits the right note between Agrippa's somewhat sappy side and his lethal capabilities on the battlefield (Agrippa's military capabilities eclipse those of Antony in very short order, to the latter's fury).

Of course, the seasoned actors continue to deliver the goods. James Purefoy (as Antony) graduates from a supporting role in Season 1 to command almost every episode of Season 2 with an impressive, theatrical presence in a gift of a role. Unmentioned in my review of Season 1 was David Bamber as Cicero, whose task is challenging (Cicero was one of the most learned, respected and gifted orators of his generation) but his performance is compelling, especially his concluding scene with Ray Stevenson's Pullo in episode six, which may be the single finest moment in the entire series. Stephenson continues his excellent work as Pullo as the character is put through the wringer but, unlike the first season, manages to keep his head above water and even prosper. However, if Season 2 had a unifying theme it would be the journey through Hades and back of Lucius Vorenus. Kevin McKidd is superb as his character is forced again and again into some very dark decisions.

Eventually the dust settles and Rome finishes where it really had to, with Octavian ascending to absolute power with the Senate as little more than his puppet and one of the most famous love stories of all time reaching its tragic ending. Whilst it would have been perhaps more satisfying to see the series go on for longer, it ends brilliantly and the series' relative brevity becomes another one of its strengths.

Rome: Season 2 (*****) is a worthy continuation and conclusion to the story begun in the first season. With excellent effects (the Battle of Philippi is impressively depicted) and jaw-dropping set design (the new set of the Aventine Collegia is genuinely amazing in its size and scale) backing up the superlative writing and acting. As with the first season, there is still a lot of violence, swearing, sex and nudity so the series isn't for everyone, but it is well worth watching for those who can accept these elements as part of the narrative.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic follow-up to the first season, 23 July 2007
By 
N. Clarke "genco1901" (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
When reviewing Season 2 of HBO/BBC's Rome, I was struck by the immense difficulties faced by the producers of the series, while trying to remain faithful to the source material and juggle the inherent limits of the TV format. Overall, I think they did a good job; although the tweed-clad classicists will already have boiled over into a critical puddle at the inaccuracies they have witnessed, I thought the production was excellent. The only criticism I have is that the series effectively compressed the 15-year period from Caesar's murder to Anthony's defeat at Actium into 12 episodes, and this forced the action on at a breakneck pace. In terms of character development, Pullo and Vorenus now find themselves facing a desperate situation; Vorenus' wife is dead, his children are slaves, and he is backing the losing side in an impending civil war, while Pullo, similarly bereft, backs the winning horse. Among the aristocrats, we see a changing of the guard, as the old political order is whittled down by debauchery, treachery and a stubborn inability to see that the Republic's days are numbered, while Octavian's brilliant political manoeuvering sees him, finally, installed as the Republic's 'First Citizen', effectively a King in all but name. The final scenes, where Octavian's triumphal procession features a ghoulish tableau with the mouldering corpses of Anthony and Cleopatra propped up on a cart, send a shiver down the spine. What a pity it is, then, that HBO/BBC have decided not to make another series, and that many plot devices have been necessarily dovetailed with unseemly haste. The BBC's classic 'I,Claudius' picks up where this series left off.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting historical series, 21 July 2007
This review is from: Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
I have watched both series and the second is definitely better than the first. You could not imagine a more dramatic or exciting story line than the story of the events that followed the death of Julius Caesar. While 'Rome' of course is not 100 per cent accurate and alters minor details for dramatic effect, I think it has told the main story brilliantly with good writing and superb acting. I would single out James Purefoy's performance as Mark Antony, he looks perfect for the role and effortlessly conveys the brilliance, flamboyance and self destructive nature of Antony. I have heard they are not making a third series - I can only hope they will change their mind!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably good!, 13 Aug 2007
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This review is from: Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
The only bad thing about HBO's series "Rome" is that it has come to an end! What an amazing, fantastic piece of work by everyone involved. Yes, it is not as historically accurate as it might be, and I could see how that could rankle. However, the performances are so outstanding by each and every actor that you simply cannot be disappointed. How often is it that you get to see not one but two older women (and in Hollywood, that means over 25) who have such fabulous, juicy roles? Atia and Servilia are fantastic; Polly Walker's Atia is a force of nature. I must admit that I liked the young Octavian a bit more than the older -- the younger is Max Pirkis, who was so fabulous as the young sailor who loses his arm in Master & Commander. Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson are superb as Vorenus and Pullo, the two soldiers the story is centered on. But I have to say, the total standout is James Purefoy as Mark Antony. Wow. In the first episode of Season Two, to watch him walk up calmly behind Cicero and scare the bejesus out of him, and in Servilia's house no less, is a scream. He is the epitome of "calm assertive," and you know that everyone in that room is frightened to death of him (and for good reason too, as Quintus finds out moments later). He manages to convey great menace and violence with just a look -- an amazing actor. Love him, and the entire series of Rome. Bravo!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As historically accurate as a drama need to be, 18 July 2007
This review is from: Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
To the reviewer who is disappointed at the lack of Italian faces in "Rome", I have listened to the commentaries and watched the "making of" programme on the Season 1 DVD box set and the director states that ALL of the extras are Italian, some of the extras with small speaking parts had no idea what they were saying and it was hard to get the extras to focus on the main action in a scene because most didn't speak English. It would also be grossly inaccurate if everyone had the stereotypical Mediterranean look because the Roman Empire stretched from the Middle East to Britain and the capital city was a melting pot of all of these nationalities and cultures.

I applaud the director for his attention to detail and if you listen to the commentaries he states where they have deviated from historical accuracy and their reasons for doing so, e.g. riding with stirrups (which the Romans didn't have) because it was safer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Age of Treason, 29 Nov 2009
By 
crystaltipps_7 (The Frozen North, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a fantastic box-set to own, particularly if you already have the first season on DVD. If you don't, I strongly suggest you buy it. 'Rome' was HBO's flagship series for a while, and -watching it- you can see why. The scripts, sets, costumes and acting are all superb.

Every member of the cast acts their socks off (not that the Romans wore socks, unless of course they were posted to that dread province: Brittania)though special mention must be given to Polly Walker, who plays the cold-blooded, back-stabbingly ambitious Atia. In season 1, she was the character everyone loved to hate and garnered very little in the way of sympathy but here, in season 2, her life slowly but surely begins to fall apart and as the cracks begin to appear in her heartless facade, I couldn't help warming to her. By the final episode, I even found myself reluctantly admiring her grit.

In fact, 'Rome' is full of strong female characters. Gaia; the scheming, Aventine slave-girl turned brothel madam. Servilia; the wronged aristocrat; who finally gets her revenge by cursing Atia into Hades and beyond in a death scene summed up by the irrepressible Mark Antony (James Purefoy) with the words 'Now THAT is an exit!' Cleopatra, given a new twist here which adds a nice freshness to the role -and added poignancy to her doomed relationship with Mark Antony.

There's no shortage of strong leads when it comes to the men, either. In this series, the relationship between Vorenus and Pullo shifts on its axis to the point where Pullo (of all people) becomes the voice of reason and Vorenus discovers that his dark side is very dark indeed. Gone is the righteous legionnaire of season 1: here he is a tortured soul with twisted sensibilities and a shocking disrespect for the gods he once revered. I mean, the guy smashes a statue of Concord (Concord!)to bits during a gang meeting and declares himself a Son of Hades. That's not good.

Mark Antony is as selfish, charming and mercenary as ever: you can't help liking him but at the same time, he could so use a good kicking. Watching the dutiful Posca of season 1 metamorphose into a drug-addled, eyeliner-wearing lightweight in Alexandria is also fun. Brutus is as conflicted and doomed as ever: he even resorts to a caftan at one point (a gesture, in my book, of utter despair) Octavian -played brilliantly by Simon Woods, is flat-out scary. Marcus Agrippa and Maecenas -his early sidekicks- are on splendid form but the laurel wreaths, as always, go to the classic double-act of Vorenus and Pullo; who stick to their oaths of friendship no matter what ... and believe me, they're strongly tested here.

What more can I say? Watch and enjoy: the only thing you'll be sorry for is that there are no more episodes to be had.

Oh: one quick word on the extras: they're scattered here and there on each disk, which is a little confusing -I like them all together on a separate one, myself- but once you've found them, they're well worth watching.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rome- The Complete second season, 20 Sep 2009
This review is from: Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
This, though an elaborate and well acted piece of Roman mis history, was not as down and dirty as the First seies. It had much of the tale of Anthony and Cleopatra almost as the history books would have it, but some lent heavily on Shakespeare. Still it was well worth the viewing. I wil be back to it in about a years time I would think.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 10 part drama, 10 Aug 2009
By 
LXIX (scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
Rome season 2 lives up to the standards set in the first outing. Picking up on the story from the assassination of Julius Caesar in March 44BC, this 10 part series covers the years up to August 30BC and Octavian's eventual triumph over Mark Antony.

Once again, the characters, costumes and elaborate sets are of a high standard with great attention to detail. However, note that the drama does deviate substantially from the historical record of what actually happened (for example, Servilia did not commit suicide in the street, Brutus did commit suicide, Caesarion was killed in Egypt, Atia died in 43BC etc). I really don't know why the writers felt the need to do this when the real stories are so gripping and packed with incident. I know it's a drama, but quite often truth is better than fiction.

The strength of the series is in the characters. Here are some of my views on them:

*Octavian - burning with ambition, ruthless, more of a politician than a soldier and made to look almost robotic at times here in his quest for supreme power and lack of empathy for others

*Mark Antony - one of the lads, if you can forgive his occasional psychotic outburst then you can actually relate to him quite well

*Titus Pullo - a killing machine, but likeable and played by an actor (Ray Stevenson) who just doesn't seem particularly nasty

*Lucius Vorenus - stoic and loyal, although rather straight-laced

*Atia - a fruitcake (there's little historical evidence to back this up - in fact, according to Tacitus she was exactly the opposite of the character portrayed here; just as well she's been dead for over 2,000 years or her lawyers would have a field day)

*Brutus - seems to be a decent, principled guy who got a bad press by the subsequent propagandists (remember that history, of course, is written by the victors)

*Cicero - highly intelligent and a titan of his times, but ultimately outmanouvered by Caesarians and undone by his tirades against Mark Antony

There are some curious things in series 2 - for example, only Octavian ages (he has a head transplant when he's replaced by a different actor). With so much attention to detail they could perhaps have put a bit more grey hair on the others. All the main actors also look very British (that's because they are - it's perhaps hard to take Roman gangsters that seriously when they have accents better suited to Eastenders).

Highlights include the clinical murder of Cicero (you do feel for him and it captures the brutality of the 'proscription' policy), the Battle of Philippi and Brutus' Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid moment, the debauchery of Cleopatra's court (apparently true and backed up by no other than Plutarch), Mark Antony's suicide, and the street battle between the organised gangs on the Aventine Hill (known as the collegiums) - this scene is like a continuation of the Gangs of New York.

Anyway, despite some flaws for the historical purists, this TV series is up there as a startling achievement. I enjoyed all the episodes and the bonus features. Each episode is also about 10 minutes longer than those in season 1.

Well done HBO and all concerned. I enjoyed every minute.
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