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Spartacus: Gods of the Arena [DVD] 
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The House of Batiatus is on the rise, basking in the glow of its infamous champion Gannicus, whose skill with a sword is matched only by his thirst for wine and women. These are the times a young Batiatus has been waiting for. Poised to overthrow his father and take control, he ll freely betray anyone to ensure his gladiators are in the highest demand. And he ll have his loyal and calculating wife Lucretia by his side for every underhanded scheme, drawing on the brazen talents of her seductive friend Gaia when it counts. Together, they will stop at nothing to deceive the masses, seize power and bleed Capua dry in this audacious prequel to Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
The title is misleading--there is no Spartacus to be found here--but little matter, as Gods of the Arena is a prime example of making lemonade from lemons. Faced with the unavailability of Andy Whitfield, star of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, due to a recurrence of cancer, the folks at Starz chose to go ahead without him and create a prequel, a resourceful way of buying some time until a new Spartacus could be found while employing several actors already under contract. The focus throughout these six episodes is on the house of Batiatus. It is there that gladiators hone their skills as they prepare for glory and/or death in the arena under the evil eye of Quintus Batiatus (John Hannah), whom Blood and Sand viewers will recognize as the principal villain of that series. The younger Batiatus, already blindly ambitious, wants to make his mark in the gladiator biz, aided by his sexy, scheming wife, Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), and her licentious friend Gaia (Jaime Murray)--and they have just the warrior to do it with in Gannicus (Dustin Clare), a preening stud described by one show exec as "Han Solo meets Achilles." There are, of course, numerous obstacles, ranging from Batiatus's own father to various rival gladiatorial operations. But really, who cares about plotting when a show has as much sex and violence, usually directly juxtaposed, as this one? True to the Blood and Sand precedent, every episode offers a steady parade of gratuitous, risibly over-the-top beheadings and other mayhem, much of it lovingly shot in slow motion, along with ample nudity (some of it full-frontal) and sex (all of it soft-core). With drugs, torture, and constant profanity also in the mix (who knew the ancient Romans dropped so many F-bombs?), this is definitely not a program for the young and impressionable. Nor is it one that's big on nuance; almost without exception, Batiatus and his ilk are depicted as frivolous, depraved, and conniving, while the gladiators and slaves are lowly but noble (not to mention as gloriously muscled and sweaty as your average Chippendales dancer). But this isn't a documentary--it's entertainment, and on that level, Gods of the Arena totally works. --Sam Graham
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Top Customer Reviews
I have always been fascinated with Ancient Rome and i thought this series was in fact spectacular to watch.
It follows of rise of Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Batiatus played by John Hannah and explains how he became the Dominus of his house and Gladitorial school following the death of his father.
This series also follows the rise of Crixus who you were introduced too in Spartacus: Blood And Sand Season 1 [DVD]  i found it quite interesting to watch this season as Crixus was a nobody and had to fight very hard to earn his place as Champion of the house.
It also goes into detail about how he came to be the lover of the Lucretia, Domina of the house played by Lucy Lawless.
Most importantly however it details the story of Gannicus, who was not only the Champion of the house before Crixus and earns his freedom, but goes onto become one of Spartacus's most loyal generals in the slave rebellion, this by the way is historical fact, you can read about it here:
This season is short at only 6 episodes but at an hour each it really is worth the money.
Its authentic, violent, bloody and at times extremely brutal, and very very graphically sexual, so i would not recommend it for kids viewing even for historical purposes.
Personally i would highly recommend it but make sure that you buy the 1st season as well, ive included the link at the top of the page.
Despite its short length Gods of the Arena does an outstanding job of explaining many of the pre stories of Season 1 while injecting all the manoeuvring for favour, violence and sex that marked the series out as so exceptional.
The acting, characterisation, plot and dialogue has all the skill and conviction of a Shakespearian production. Graphically impressive the photography and direction capture the essence of the era beautifully.
As good as all the components are this is a series about gladiators and the real stars are the fight scenes - choreographed, performed and CGI'd into a heavily stylised brutal reality they are fully immersive and leave little to the imagination
Buy it, and if you haven't seen season 1 yet, buy that first to appreciate the character stories in full.
Historical accuracy may not be at the forefront, but this is essentially entertainment and it does capture the spirit of the subject with the costumes [were they exist] being authentic, the fights brutal, life harsh and treacherous and all set in a convincing debauched provincial Capua. This is gratuitous in every respect and most is carried out in a calculating slo-mo with lashings of squirty blood spatter flying everywhere. There is sex waiting on every street corner, as is death. Lucretia [Lucy lawless] is the calculating and scheming wife, who draws on the seductive talents of her brazen and licentious friend Gaia (Jaime Murray) who aids in their machinations, while a host of ‘chipendale’ wannabees and beautiful women provide the eye candy.
The six 50 minute episodes are spread over two discs, audio is 2.0 default, but use 5.1 if you can, it’s a much richer sound. Rated 18 this is more an X rating in places, featuring decapitations and full frontal nudity from the start, leading to drug fuelled sex scenes [albeit soft core], with nudity and ‘F’ words [and a host of others] in almost every sentence of every scene. This is not family viewing as there is something to offend everyone here.Read more ›
Backed by an impressive cast, John Hannah shines as Batiatus. Charismatic Gannicus is the champion who preceded Crixus. How the change came about is unexpected - partly the result of a love triangle, which sheds a new light on Peter Mensah's future gladiator trainer role. Throughout here is a performance many may find particularly moving.)
The show is not for the fainthearted - swearing, sex and gore again much in evidence. Nobody is left in any doubt about the violence of the times - especially in the arena where so much blood gushes and severed limbs fly. (The show is twenty five percent special effects and they are tremendous.)
Six episodes (the last one extended and many with moments not shown on television). Commentaries accompany them all and contain interesting anecdotes. For example, the funeral pyre set off the studio's sprinkler system - many problems resulting. There is also admission that the quest for authenticity does not extend to the teeth - practically everybody sporting fine examples of modern dentistry. In fact we are told that most gladiators would have had no teeth at all.
This prequel was a stopgap so Andy Whitfield could recover from serious illness and return as Spartacus. Sadly this was not to be. His memory lives on, and so does the show. Excitement grows about the sequel. How can it surpass what has gone before?
Although I usually prefer far tamer fare, the series gripped and would not let go. Recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent thanks. Arrived well before expected delivery datePublished 1 month ago by Heather Meehan