|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (82:22)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Robert Dornhelm|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
As is the way with great Hollywood movies, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to remake Spartacus for a modern audience. All too often these remakes fall well short of the mark, so how does Director Robert Dornhelm fare?
The 2004 version of Spartacus is a made-for-television mini-series that was originally intended for viewing over two nights, though it is presented here on the one disc as a feature film. It is interesting to note that despite being a mini-series this version is actually shorter than the original 1960 movie.
Enslaved by the Romans and forced to work the gold mines of Egypt, Spartacus (Goran Visnjic) is destined to live a life of hardship. His resentment of Roman cruelty and oppression lead him to intervene in the beating of a young slave at the hands of a Roman guard. Spartacus narrowly avoids crucifixion when he is purchased by Batiatus (Ian McNeice), a gladiator trainer from Capua.
Spartacus is trained in the art of gladiatorial combat before taking to the arena for several bouts. It is during this period that Varinia (Rhona Mitra) is offered to Spartacus as an inducement to perform well in the arena. He refuses to take advantage of her and the predictable love plot unfolds.
The defiance shown by fellow gladiator Draba (Henry Simmons) provides the catalyst for Spartacus to lead the gladiators in a revolt against their captors. Once free they flee to nearby Mt. Vesuvius where they are joined by thousands of provincial slaves.
To this backdrop we have Marcus Crassus (Angus MacFadyen) and Antonius Agrippa (Alan Bates) struggling for control of the Senate. Their infighting is to blame for Rome's inadequate response, which allows the slaves to gain an upper hand on the battlefield.
A mini-series is typically viewed as the poor cousin to big budget feature films and Spartacus is no exception. Whilst some of the actors do a fine job (Angus MacFadyen and Alan Bates come to mind) many struggle to play a convincing role. Director Robert Dornhelm has done a good job given the limited budget at his disposal, but you have to question why there was a need to remake Spartacus in the first place.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
The image is always clear though at times the long distance shots appear a little soft, such as Capua at 30:11 and the billowing smoke at 71:25. This could be an attempt to mask the low budget sets and CGI sequences. Blacks are inky black though this is at the expense of the shadow detail. There is no low level noise.
Soft greens and browns are extensively used for the rural and forest scenes whilst off-whites and greys predominate the large cities. I felt that the colouration used in this film was appropriate for the period being depicted. For example, the togas worn by the senate members are off-white rather than the vibrant bright whites we are traditionally exposed to.
There are no MPEG artefacts or film-to-video artefacts to be seen anywhere. I did notice the occasional film artefact flash by but you have to be looking to see them.
The only subtitle stream available is English for the Hearing Impaired. It is well placed and easy to read, accurately reflecting the spoken word and providing cues for the hearing impaired.
This is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring at 82:22. The layer change occurs between scenes and is not noticeable.
There is only the one audio track on this DVD and that is the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s).
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout the film. The audio sync appeared to be off just a touch - this wasn’t always apparent but could be seen if looked for. There is good separation across the front sound stage.
The musical score by Randy Miller is a solid performance.
The surround channels are used extensively to portray the clash of steel on steel during the action sequences. They produce a subtle ambience throughout the film, though they could have been a little louder.
The subwoofer is used to good effect during the combat sequences without ever becoming intrusive.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 1 disc is a Double Sided Dual Layer DVD. Side A contains Part 1 of the feature whilst Side B contains Part 2 of the feature and the deleted scenes. Unless your native tongue is French or Spanish I would recommend the Region 4 version - that way there is no need to flip the disc over part way through the movie.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-533K, using Component output|
|Display||InFocus Screenplay 7200 with ScreenTechnics 100" (16x9) screen. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to Amplifier. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Amplification||Denon AVC -A11SR|
|Speakers||Jamo D6PEX wall mounted Speakers and Powered Sub (7.1)|