There are no shortage of art history experts in an outrage about this Starz Originals television series, specifically the complete and utter disregard for accuracy and truth in creating a series about the famous Renaissance painter and inventor. The fact is, this series shares as much in common with reality as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter did with the life of our sixteenth president. While writer David S. Goyer added some realism to the fantasy of Batman, he seems to have implemented a little bit of fantasy into the life of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Tom Riley stars as the enigmatically brilliant Da Vinci, an artist and inventor with a serious case of attention deficit disorder. He has unimaginable energy that seems to stem from a mind which never ceases to work, only slowing when he takes to smoking opiates for relief. Not unlike Sherlock Holmes, he is also gifted with physical aptitude not expected for a scholar or drug addict. This allows scenes of swashbuckling action on top of the imagery created to allow us to see Da Vinci’s mind at work. Add in an excessive of nubile bodies seeming to take a cue from “Spartacus,” another successfully indulgent Starz Originals, and “Da Vinci’s Demons” has plenty of guilty-pleasure spectacle.
I found the first season of Da Vinci’s Demons fairly engaging, despite the obvious way the series seems to have been concocted nearly as a Frankenstein of past successes. With the writer of the successful Dark Knight trilogy, a period series looking to capture a bit of the success from series such as “Game of Thrones” and many imitators, and the excessiveness of “Spartacus,” this series looks like a sure-thing. But I’m pretty sure they thought the same thing about “Flash-Forward” as a copycat of “Lost,” and any other number of carefully constructed failures. Only time will tell if this show will continue among the mass of other period action/fantasy films.
The Blu-ray release of the first season includes all eight episodes and an assortment of special features on three discs. There are audio commentaries with writer/creator Goyer and actors Tom Riley, Laura Haddock, Blake Ritson, David Schofield and Tom Bateman. There are also four featurettes on the third disc, mostly dealing with the period aspects and how Da Vinci’s life was adapted. There are also deleted scenes and a second-screen promo.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Disc Features: 7/10