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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon March 18, 2014
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, knew right from the start exactly what it wanted to accomplish, and did so with a minimum of substance and a maximum of style. Now, for some viewers, this will be completely satisfying...and other viewers may find the film lacking in key areas. It's time to find where you lie.

If you like: hyper-stylized, slo-motion violence, flying bodies, spewing blood, epic music, giant battles, buff actors, sexy actresses, shouted speeches, stylized cinematography, battle scenes of dubious historicity, Eva Green chewing the scenery, earnest performances from a ripped cast, dastardly villains, blood, sweat, and rain, heavy R-ratings, and relatively simple-minded, stylish and macho war movies...
Then congrats, 300: Rise of an Empire is for you!

But if you like: historical accuracy, a strong plot, subtle acting, practical effects, morals, and an accurate depiction of ancient combat...I suggest you pick up Gladiator or read Herodotus. Rise of an Empire isn't the type of film for you.

If you saw Zack Snyder's visceral, testosterone-packed 300, then you know much of what you're getting in it's sequel. Now, Rise of an Empire isn't as good a film as 300, and I think we know why that is: the story of 300 Spartans fighting to the last man against terrible odds... is a much stronger story than a leader building a bunch of ships to go fight other ships. Secondly, Sullivan Stapleton, while suitably buff and a capable actor, just doesn't have the gravitas of Gerard Butler.

Thankfully, our returning cast - the amazing David Wenham, the strong-willed Lena Headey, and the insanely over-the-top Rodrigo Santoro as the eight foot god-king Xerxes - all give surprisingly good performances. Sullivan Stapleton holds his own, and his deep voice is the voice of a born leader. But it is Eva Green - scary, subtle, ruthless Eva Green that steals the scenes as Artemisia, the Persian commander of thousands of ships.

You know much of the rest: flying buckets of blood, sloooooow thenreallyfastmotion! gravity-defying leaps, flying arrows, swinging swords, sweaty six-packs, a drained color palate, flowing robes, and stylized gore. Zack Snyder pioneered it all in 300, and his style is borrowed for better and for worse by director Noam Murro. As I said before, know where you lie with this sort of film, and it will fulfill all it sets out to do!

My rating? 3.5 blood-drenched stars, rounded up to 4!

P.S. If this review was helpful in your decision, please give it a like. Cheers!
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on March 4, 2014
I went into this movie feeling the effects in 300 were a little over the top and while they didn't ruin the movie for me, I really wanted them to tone this down in Rise of an Empire.

Thankfully, they did!

This movie has a semi parallel timeline to the original and but, it is what the Athens Navy was doing during the same time frame.

The hero in this film is Themistocles and he is more the clever tactician who can fight whereas Leonidas was more the Gladiator whose discipline made him a king of Sparta. Think of this more like Kirk vs Picard where both were great in their own way.

This movie also gives more of the origin of Xerxes and Artemisia as we learn their backstory and why their vengeance is aimed at Greece.

Overall, I really liked the story and it felt like a much more complete package than the original. I liked the strategic design to the fight scenes and this is honestly the first of these Greco-Roman Empire movies this year that I've really appreciated.

For those that are concerned with the content...

There's a pretty wild Sex scene in the movie, several exposed breasts and other body parts both male and female. Also there's a ton of very graphic killings (duh).

If you liked the original, you will love this one and if you were just okay with the original, you still might love this movie.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 11, 2014
Nine Things about the Movie "300: Rise of an Empire"

1. This violent action flick isn't really a sequel or a prequel to the movie "300". It sort of wraps around it. It starts out by documenting events before "300". Then it tells a parallel story of different battles in a different part of Greece while "300" is happening. Then it wraps things up by showing what happens after Sparta's 300 are all killed at the end of the first movie.

2. The main villain of the first film, Xerxes, has a minor role in this one. King Leonidas is not in this movie, except for flashbacks of the first film. This time it's the Athenian hero Themistokles against the female Persian naval commander Artemisia. She's bringing goth back.

3. The movie makes a point to say that the Athenians were mostly farmers, poets, and craftsmen. They were not warriors. But somehow they look and fight just like the Spartans.

4. While the first movie focused on land battles, this one is mostly about ship warfare.

5. It is not directed by the guy that directed the first movie. So while it has a similar feel, it's not quite the same..

6. This movie is an example of what is becoming called "war porn" - an athletic ballet of violence and sex appeal. It's absolutely beautiful to watch - even the huge orgasms of blood.

7. I didn't know women used to fight battles in flowy dresses.

8. The sex scene between Themistokles and Artemisia is supposed to be a metaphorical bargaining session about freedom, slavery, and loyalty, but it ends up just being funny.

9. If you want historic accuracy, or metaphors for current world events, or even intelligent discourse about different ways to rule a country, then you need to stay away from this movie. But if you want an absurd piece of kick-ass style and violence, then this might be the best you get all year.
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on August 16, 2014
The music was loud, while the dialog was hard to hear. The movie was hard to follow and seemed more about special effects than anything else. Special effects were computerized and rediculous. Each kill spilled more blood than realistically possible, and spilled like something out of today's modern video games. Most of the battles take place out at sea. The waters were rough and yet seemed to have no effect to those on the ships as they all maintained perfect balance with ease. My husband and I are glad we only paid $1.28 at Redbox to see this movie, and we have no desire to see it again.

We did like the original 300 in case anyone was wandering.
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on August 14, 2014
I really enjoyed watching 300, so when I realized there was a sequel I got excited and looked online for it immediately. Unfortunately, 300: Rise of an Empire followed the same route as most other sequels: it was not nearly as good as the original. The plot was fairly dull and slow moving, until the very end where it cuts out before the actual exciting part happens. The special effects are also weird, particularly the blood spatters. Maybe this is what the directors were going for, but it made it seem much more fantastic and ridiculous than realistic.
Call me a prude, but I thought the sexuality was much more unnecessary in this movie than in the prior film. While 300 had plenty of sensuality of its own, it was much more subtle than this film. The acting wasn't bad, but I also didn't feel much of a connection to what was happening. There was character development, but in ways that didn't make me care about them.
TL;DR, my boyfriend looked at me at the end of this movie and said that he'd pay another four dollars to take back ever watching it.
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on September 22, 2014
I viewed this movie early this morning on Amazon Instant Video, ... and actually paid to rent it. Due to insomnia, I watched to entire movie. Perversely, I'm glad I did since I can also comment on the ridiculous cartoons shown during the ending credits. Calling the movie bad defames the meaning of the word, "bad". The only thing shocking about this movie is the fact that someone actually made it. I will admit that a lot of talent was used to create this movie. I can only say, "What a waste of skill and talent." It's sad that the people who made this movie took an historical event that could have made a monumental movie, even including mythological creatures and characters with "some' fantasy thrown in, using the special effects available today,and managed to totally trash it. The blood, gore, nudity and sex didn't offend me. The absurdity of the movie and its lack of cohesion did.
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on August 14, 2014
AWFUL. I'm a big DC fan and although I have faith Zach Synder will do a good job with Batman vs Superman - this was a total piece of crap. The first 300 was a classic but this was some cheap knock off. I was so disappointed to see all the old characters/actors used in such a poor quality film. The fight scenes were all the same and became boring as the movie dragged on.
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on July 30, 2014
I can't exactly tell why this one is different to the other one; I loved the first one and i want to love this one too but... First, the movie is long because 70% of it is played in slow motion. Then the plot is far from engaging.... I don't watch movies for its special effects. The dialog doesn't work, the story is far related with Leonidas.... if you want to "see" what a mivie really is, try watching it in mute, if you can't stand it, it's not worth watching.
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on July 14, 2014
empty violence and pointless style. Nothing like the original 300
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on July 24, 2014
Personally, I went in with the lowest of expectations with "300: Rise of an Empire." The first "300" was very good for its time, an entertaining festival of unadulterated machismo and bloody carnage. Perhaps it hasn't aged very well in the seven years since its release, with its more problematic elements becoming more highlighted by the influx of action films with better female characterization, but I would still contend that it's a very entertaining, fun film. But three years shy of a decade later (god, I feel old,) why is a follow-up even remotely necessary?

For much of its 100+ minute runtime, "Rise of an Empire" desperately tries to prove its worth to skeptics like myself, and mostly succeeds. It isn't a sequel, in the strictest sense of the word, nor is it a prequel. Instead, we have a story that takes place before, during, and a bit after the events of the first film, It follows Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton,) a blue-caped Athenian crusader responsible for killing King Darius, which in turn spurs his son Xerxes into becoming the borderline iconic villain fans remember. But while Leonidas focused on direct ground confrontation, most of the action here takes place on the high seas, pitting our protagonist against the menacing navel commander Artemisia (expertly played by Eva Green.)

And when the focus is on that action, this sequel soars. The action sequences are some of the most well-choreographed I've seen all year, especially the explosive, physics-defying climax. When films have a focus on navel warfare, they often tend to drag on and becoming grandiose, budget-driven bores. But here, the script eschews typical ship battles, instead focusing on implausible yet exhilarating bits of action. Horses jump from boat to boat, ships spew oil which is of course lit ablaze, soldiers leap from masts and plunge their blades into the skulls of the opposition. If you're looking for fun swordplay and bloody chaos, few movies do it better than this.

Which makes other parts of the film feel like a thundering bore. Yes, when "Rise of an Empire" decides to focus on political intrigue or grand proclamations of battle, it falls woefully short of the heights delivered by its predecessor. There are no "tonight we dine in hell" or "this is Sparta" moments here, only cut-rate dialogue which exists only to drive the plots. That is, when we're focused on the Athenian side of things. The characters of Artemisia and Gorgo (Lena Headey reprises her role) get the best lines, ironic in a movie so blatantly pitched towards men. But when they're off camera, which is too often, the film necessitates that Stapleton steps into the spotlight, and not to be too harsh, but the guy just can't carry a whole movie.

Speaking of Gorgo and Artemisia, I have to commend Zac Snyder and Kurt Johnstead for improving the female characterization present in this series. While it's still no "Divergent" or "Hunger Games," both of these characters get to slay the opposition and remain mostly undefined by victimhood. I also have to hand it to the movie for handling the topic of sexual assault in a non-glorified, non-sexualized manner. It's portrayed not as some forbidden vice, but as a disgusting act of subjugation and domination, which is exactly how it was implemented in the time period during which this is supposed to take place. Gone are the days of the naked, dancing oracle and Gorgo's assault in the previous film, and it shows that the franchise is willing to not entirely alienate a female audience. Good stuff. Not great, but good.

What more is there to say about "300: Rise of an Empire" aside from that last sentiment, then? It's nothing groundbreaking, nor does it feel as innovative or original as the first film, but it constantly undermines the viewer's doubt in it being a worthy addition to the series canon. It may get dull at times, but the action sequences and great performances from Green and Headey, paired with Junkie XL's excellent score, manage to save the film from complete mediocrity. This won't win over people who don't like this sort of film, but for fans of the original or people looking for a high-flying action experience, it's a solid bit of entertainment that'll probably be worth your time.

Grade: B-
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