The House of Batiatus has towered above the city of Capua for many years. Spartacus: Gods of the Arena will explore its deadly history before the arrival of Spartacus, and the death he carried with him. Loyalties will be tested, lives shattered, and battles waged in this thrilling prequel to Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

Studio: STARZ/Anchor Bay
Year: 2011
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Run time: 340 minutes
Rating: NR

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Disc Spec: 2 BD50
Region: A

Gods of the Arena is excellent. Gods chronicles the bloody and lewd days of the House of Batiatus prior to the arrival of Spartacus. It introduces us to Gannicus, one of Capua’s initial champion warriors; it delivers Crixus to the scene and it documents the rise of Oenomaus to Doctore. But something is missing….Ah…what’s missing is the item that made Blood & Sand a 5-Star series; what’s missing is Andy Whitfield and his Spartacus character.

Nevertheless, Starz has presented fans of Blood & Sand and newcomers to the series with a welcome gift with Gods of the Arena. John Hannah as Batiatus and Lucy Lawless as his wife Lucretia get a chance to reprise the roles that they excellently portrayed in Blood & Sand, and they again portray the roles with passion.

If you were a fan of Blood & Sand and you’re not watching Gods of the Arena, you’re cheating yourself out of a show that’s almost as good as the original. And if you’re new to the show, I recommend watching ‘Blood & Sand’ first, then viewing ‘Gods of the Arena’ so that the spoiler factor is erased.

Though a real plus is Spartacus’ shameless steeling from 300 and Gladiator, but in a better way. Gladiators’ dreamy and poignant memory-of-his-fit-wife bits, with the sub Enya music, are in here and so is 300’s heavy metal guitar music during fight sequences. But those two movies used the music to average effect; Spartacus does these FX techniques on acid! Do you remember when Matrix pioneered that stop motion effect which looked utterly amazing the first time you saw it, but then all the subsequent movies started copying the effect until we all started to yawn? Well that amazing slow mo effect from 300 is used in Spartacus, but in absolutely every fight sequence; and it’s bloody amazing.
Movie Content: 9.5/10

Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena’ encompasses the gritty atmosphere in content as it does on print. I found colors to be strong throughout the entire presentation. Blacks are deep. Fleshtones have a natural look and feel to them. Details are excellent throughout holding a very strong look and feel for this time piece show. Fans of the show will not be disappointed at all.
Video Quality: 9/10

The audio mix is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless track. This series has a nice mix between battle and dialogue driven scenes. This is not an overly aggressive sound mix as one would expect during the battle sequences. Dialogue is centered properly through the center channel providing a nice deep clarity. During dialogue driven films, this is very important on the depth as I have seen with a few DTS-HD mixes lacking dialogue depth.
Audio Quality: 8.5/10

Special Features

  • Starz Studios: Gods of the Arena
  • Extended Scenes
  • Alternate Endings
  • Content Too Risqué for Cable TV
  • Convention Panel
  • Arena Bloopers
  • On Set With Lucy Lawless
  • Post Production: The Final Execution
  • Weapons of Mass Disruption
  • Battle Royale: Anatomy of a Scene
  • 10 Easy Steps to Dismemberment
  • Dressed to Kill
  • Enter the Arena: Production Design

Special Features: 9/10

Final Thoughts

The entire show was a treat and it goes without saying that though we have lost the original star of Spartacus Andy Whitfield who was brilliant and made season one sing, I am looking forward to season three. The post revolt when the might of Rome comes face to face with the most famous slave revolt in history. It should be amazing!
Overall Rating: 9/10