Here we are. After four weeks (and four seasons), we come to journey’s conclusion. It has been a long road filled with more pleasures than even those that could be offered by the gods themselves, but as with all good things, even it must reach an end. We’ve seen the glories earned with BLOOD AND SAND, watched the ascension of mere mortals to GODS OF THE ARENA, witnessed unbridled VENGEANCE tear away at the foundation of Rome brick by vile brick, and now we bear witness to the final offering from Anchor Bay’s SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES Blu Ray-collection.
In this, our final instalment, we shall see what horrors and madness are unleashed when Spartacus’ army rages for freedom against the full might of Rome.
When a WAR OF THE DAMNED is waged, all fall from lofty perch.
SPARTACUS: WAR OF THE DAMNED
As the legend of Spartacus grows, so too do the numbers who fall to his cause. No longer a small band of rebellious slaves, the Thracian gladiator now commands a true army. With each victory, his forces become even more emboldened, his reach ever widening.
Rome’s losses are substantial. Its citizens cower in fear at the mere mention of the name ‘Spartacus’ and the ex-slave’s growing power can no longer be ignored. The senate will not make the same mistakes as they have in past, sending a single Praetor like Glaber with a small force to deal with men of skill and number. A decision is made to conscript Marcus Crassus, the richest and most shrewd man in all of the Republic, to their cause and all of the military might he commands. Julius Caesar is called into service as well with the promise of a fortune to match his famous lineage.
Learning of Rome’s maneuvering, Spartacus seeks a more defensible and well-stocked position, deciding to occupy the city of Sinuessa en Valle. Upon taking the city, and, by default, becoming the jailer of any Roman citizen unlucky enough to be stuck within its walls, Spartacus begins to discover his lofty ideals may not be shared by all within his forces, even those he calls most trusted.
What follows is an emotionally gripping season filled with the tremendous action, well-drawn characters, supreme tactical maneuvering, and twisty storytelling we’ve come to expect from each new season of the show. For this final go ‘round, no one holds anything back.
To that end, WAR OF THE DAMNED is the most morally challenging of all the seasons of SPARTACUS, forcing us to watch as some of those we had become accustomed to viewing as heroes transformed for the worse by the horrors of war. Adding to the difficulty are some truly engaging antagonists. Crassus and Caesar are not mustache twirlers like Glaber, but rather are more multi-dimensional and even sympathetic at times, much in the mould of Batiatus and Lucretia.
The scope of the show also expands this season to reach a size I’d previously thought impossible on the series. Vast battlefields and armies of “thousands” may be the order of the day, but to its much-deserved credit, SPARTACUS never loses sight of the strength in individual conflict. Everyone involved in the production does their part in making the final season epic in every sense of the word.
The WAR OF THE DAMNED discs carry all of the previously released DVD supplemental material, Blu exclusive expanded episodes and commentary, as well as several items unique to this set. The features are: The Legend Retold, The Price of Being a Gladiator, A Bloody Farewell, The Spoils of War Revealed: Visual Effects, Adorning the Damned, The Mind Behind SPARTACUS, and Complete Series exclusives SPARTACUS Fan Favorites With Liam McIntyre, Scoring A Hit: Composer Joseph LoDuca, An Eye Full: Roger Murray, SPARTACUS: Paul Grinder, The Last Word: John Hannah.
Anchor Bay and Starz really outdid themselves with the features on this final disc as I truly enjoyed every single one of them. That said, every segment that allowed the actors to reminisce about the series and illustrate their feelings of working on the show really struck a chord with me. I especially enjoyed everyone throwing Manu Bennett under the bus for physicality in The Price of Being a Gladiator, as well as the always delightful John Hannah making a final appearance for The Last Word.
At journey’s end, I can honestly say that for as much as I love the Spartacus series, and in spite of my sky high expectations for this set, I have not been disappointed. Anchor Bay and Starz have put together a wonderful collection for a tragically underrated series with the absolutely tremendous audio and visual presentation it deserves. Whether you’re a fan of the show or are new to the whole experience, you’ll find a lot to love here. And hey, when you’re done watching, if you find yourself battling the urge to run outside, throw your hands in the and scream “I AM SPARTACUS” at the top of your lungs, just give in.
Your neighbours will think you’re nuts, but it’ll be worth it… It’ll be worth it.
To the cast and crew of Spartacus… Gratitude.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!