Blu-Ray Review: HBO’s Epic ‘Rome’ Released in HD Series Set

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CHICAGO – Just in time for holiday shopping, HBO has released both seasons of the epic “Rome” in one gorgeously-packaged Blu-Ray set with all 22 episodes and bonus material including audio commentaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes. Whatever you may think of the show, “Rome” was one of the most beautifully designed programs of the decade and a perfect fit for 1080p.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0

The winner of seven Emmy Awards takes place four hundred years after the founding of the Republic. Rome is brought vividly to life as an allegory for power struggles in any era. In the show, the days of shared power has come to an end and everyone is fighting for their part of the new structure - it’s the perfect backdrop for betrayal, excess, and corruption.

Blending historical figures like Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, and Cleopatra with their own narratives, “Rome” was a gorgeous blend of style and substance. Yes, it was sometimes a bit too complicated for its own good with more speaking parts in one episode than a lot of dramas have in an entire season, but it’s hard to get down on a show for being too ambitious when so few programs think to color outside of the lines.

Rome: The Complete Series was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 17th, 2009.
Rome: The Complete Series was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 17th, 2009.
Photo credit: HBO Home Video

“Rome” was canceled far too early but I suspect that it will be a show that will be looked back on for a variety of reasons, including the debut of several young actors. Kevin McKidd (who played Lucius Vorenus) is a very talented young star who has already gone to his own show (the canceled “Journeyman”) and now co-stars on one of the biggest shows on television (“Grey’s Anatomy”). His co-lead, Ray Stevenson (Titus Pullo) has been all over the big screen, taking the title role in “Punisher: War Zone” and appearing in “Cirque du Freak” and the upcoming “The Book of Eli”. Ciaran Hinds and Polly Walker ruled before “Rome” and continue to rule. The intricate design of “Rome” got most of the press, but the cast deserves praise as well.

Of course, in 1080p, it’s the stunning visuals of HBO’s program that registers the most. The episodes not only look amazing but have been accompanied by English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks. Special features include a Blu-Ray exclusive, in-depth, interactive on-screen guide prepared by the show’s historical consultant called “All Roads Lead to Rome,” and “Bloodlines,” another on-screen guide to help you keep track of the connections between the soldiers, senate, and families of Rome.

Previously available and imported special features include 13 audio commentaries with cast and crew, 4 behind the scenes featurettes exploring the production, 3 featurettes examining the history of Rome, 2 featurettes detailing the creation of two pivotal scenes, and more.

Finally, “Rome” is housed in one of the coolest-looking Blu-Ray packages to date, feeling more like a hardcover novel in your hands than a flimsy DVD case.

When the story of HBO in the ’00s is written, most people will remember “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “Deadwood,” “Six Feet Under,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (with a few fans of “Big Love” probably in the mix). It feels like “Rome,” largely due to its too-brief run, is getting swept under the rug. This gorgeous complete series set should go a long way toward bringing this underrated program back into the conversation.

‘Rome: The Complete Series’ is released by HBO Home Video and stars Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Simon Woods, Lindsay Duncan, James Purefoy, Ciaran Hinds, Tobias Menzies, Kerry Condon, Indira Varma, Allen Leech and Camilla Rutherford. It was created by Bruno Heller, John Milius, and William J. MacDonald. It was released on Blu-Ray November 17th, 2009.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Micheal's picture

Good review!

This Bluray set will be a perfect Christmas gift for myself. I loved ROME and it is a shame it was cancelled (high production costs and a big set fire). There is rumors of Heller working on a movie script so maybe we will get to see a final conclusion to this great series!

Anonymous's picture

ITA Excellent review. You

ITA Excellent review. You have just convinced me to buy the set as I’ve seen the first season but not the second. This will be much better than renting it.
I’m a huge fan of Kevin McKidd, James Purefoy, Ray Stevenson, and Polly Walker. Great series and cast.

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