Mania Grade: A
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- Rated: R
- Cast: Liam McIntrye, Manu Bennett, Dustin Clare, Simon Merrells, Todd Lasance
- Written By: Various
- Directed By: Various
- Distributor: Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2013
- Extras: See Below
Spartacus: War of the Damned Blu-ray Review
The epic Starz series comes to a bloody end
By Tim Janson
September 27, 2013
As I mentioned in my weekly reviews of Spartacus: War of the Damned, part of the difficulty of this final season of the Starz series is that we knew the outcome, at least from a historical sense. We knew eventually that Spartacus and his army would be defeated by the Roman legions. The one mystery was what would be the final fate of Spartacus? While it was assumed he was killed in battle his body was never found. With that bit of handcuff, Starz had the make the journey to the inevitable fate memorable and they succeeded in fine fashion.
War of the Damned picks up a year after the events in Spartacus: Vengeance. Spartacus’s army has swelled to the point that they need a city to house them and set their sights on conquering a city along the coast. The Roman senate turns to Marcus Crassus (Merrells), the wealthiest man in Rome, to finally quell the slave rebellion. Crassus uses his own wealth to raise and army with an eye on gaining future power in Rome. Aiding Crassus is the brash, womanizing, hard-drinking, Julius Caesar (Lasance), a young but seasoned warrior who was claimed to be a descendant of the Goddess Venus. While Spartacus had dealt with numerous Roman commanders previously, in Crassus he finds his true arch foe; a man very much like himself but on opposite sides. Unlike Glaber and other Romans, Crassus admires Spartacus and doesn’t make the mistake of underestimating his opponent.
The first half of the season takes place in and around the capture city of Sinuessa en Valle. Spartacus attempts to buy protection along their seaside by making a deal with a notorious group of Cilician pirates which turns out disastrous for both sides…although much more so for the pirates. Caesar manages to infiltrate the city, leading to an assault by Crassus that forces the slaves to retreat into the nearby mountains. Crixus (Bennett) and Spartacus disagree on the next course of action. Crixus leads his army in a direct assault upon Rome while Spartacus remains with is army in a final standoff against Crassus.
War of the Damned gave fans something the show had lacked during its previous 2 ½ seasons, which was a truly formidable Roman antagonist in Marcus Crassus. Merrells portrayal of Crassus was one of the strongest aspects of the final season. He was a determined yet intelligent commander who would not fall into the same mistakes that his predecessors had made in trying to defeat Spartacus. In fact one of the truly memorable scenes of finale finds the two leaders meeting face to face and displaying a mutual understanding and admiration for each other. It was one of the most powerful scenes of the season. Lasances’s fiery portrayal as Caesar was also a welcome addition to the Roman contingent and gave rise to rumors of a possible spinoff series.
The final season was presented in a far grander scale than the previous seasons. Gone were the set pieces of the gladiatorial arenas and villas. These gave way to epic, full scale battles featuring thousands of combatants. Few shows outside of HBO’s Game of Thrones have been able to approach this kind of scope.
The final two episodes “The Dead and the Dying” and “Victory” gave all of the main cast members a final chance to shine and bow out in a blaze of bloody glory. Liam McIntyre, having to fill the gaping hole left by the death of Andy Whitfield, finally matches his predecessor’s legacy with a fierce, commanding yet moving performance as Spartacus. This is a show that had one of the most underrated casts in television. For all of the publicity that shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead” garner I would be hard pressed not to consider Spartacus the best show on TV over the past few years. While we knew the outcome from the beginning, Spartacus took us on a brutal, sexy, and emotionally powerful ride.
Spartacus: A Legend Retold (9:32) – A look at the entire series and the re-imagining of the historical tale featuring interviews with John Hannah, Peter Mensah, Lucy Lawless, and Andy Whitfield.
The Pride of Being a Gladiator (3:45) – A look at the workout and training regimen that the actors went through for their roles and the many actual injuries they suffered.
A Bloody Farewell (2:50) – The actors provide their thoughts on the final episode and wrapping up the series.
Spoilers of War Revealed: Visual Effects (5:21) Looks at how the show evolved from being shot primarily on sets to mostly being show on green screen and creating the 3D environments.
Adorning the Damned - Looks at creating the costumes and weapons for the show
The Mind Behind Spartacus (7:15) – An interview with show producers Steven S. DeKnight.