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on June 27, 2014
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE is a frustrating, but fitfully entertaining companion piece to 300. I say companion piece, because the events of this film take place before, during and after the events of 300. As such, this movie can't really stand on its own and suffers by comparison to the original, which was a much-better-told story. To put it another way, this movie is essentially the same underdog story as the first, only transplanted to the sea. A few characters from the previous film are carried over, and even those that aren't have analogues in this one. The plot revolves around Themistocles and Artemisia, who represent Athens and the Persian empire, respectively. Themistocles is a legendary warrior who reportedly killed Darius at the battle of Marathon, and Artemisia is a Greek woman who was rescued by the Persians and rose to command their navy. Their dynamic is what is supposed to drive the movie, and it largely fails to do so, with the exception of a hilarious sex scene which takes place midway through the film. These two try their best, but they are largely unable to make up for the absence of Gerard Butler here, creating a sort of charisma vacuum. Where the original was kind of tongue-in-cheek when it came to the jingoistic and ham-handed dialogue, this one takes it mostly seriously. Not only content to suck the joy out of the ridiculousness of seeing perfectly ripped men kill the mess out of each other, the early battle sequences are oppressive and borderline repulsive in the level of digital blood and gore on display, as if increasingly stylized violence could make up for the lack of investment in the story. Granted, the visuals are impressive, and an improvement over the original, but it just felt soulless and empty. There was also overuse of slow motion, and 10-15 minutes could have been shaved off if they'd shown most of the battle sequences at normal speed. The only sequence which I was truly interested in was the final one, and by then it was a little late to make me care in what was happening onscreen. As far as acting is concerned, nobody really gave a bad performance, but nobody was really that great either. Eva Green was the standout, and did a good job of chewing the scenery, but she never really let loose until she meets face-to-face with Sullivan Stapleton's Themistocles. There was also some palpable energy with her performance in the final moments of the film. Returning from the original film are Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo, and Rodrigro Santoro as Xerxes. However, Lena Headey is relegated to being the "Queen of Exposition" and narrator for most of the running time, while Xerxes is largely absent due to his being occupied with the Spartans at Thermopylae. Still, they are each given a moment where they can shine. On a technical level, the film is incredible. There was an incredible level of detail, mostly augmented by CGI, but still beautiful to look at nonetheless. The battle sequences, this time involving ships, were also well-filmed and easy to follow. The only negative I can draw here is, again, the overuse of digital blood. There was a lot in the original 300, but there's fountains and geysers of it here, almost to the point of nausea. On the other side, a positive I can find was the score, which hit all the right beats and fit the movie quite well. I also liked the use of "War Pigs" in the closing credits, which was also used for one of the promotional trailers. Overall, the film more than a mite disappointing, given my affection for what preceded it. The story largely failed to be engaging, and often felt like a rehash, and it tried to compensate for that with even more outlandish and stylized violence, to the point where I felt like it glamorized it. Still, as visual spectacle, it was second to none. Would I recommend it? No. There simply isn't enough going on to warrant spending your money, and when it finally kicks into gear in the final act, it's a little too late.
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on February 7, 2017
This review is for the 3D version of the movie, which has major flaws. Much of the movie, and particularly during action sequences, the foreground is filled with smudges, blood splatter, water droplets and lens flair. This makes it look like you're watching the movie through a dirty pane of glass and seriously distracts from the movie. This is not a small, easily ignored matter - thanks to the 3D its very much in-your-face and highly distracting. Sad because the stylized look of the movie should have lent itself very well to 3D but instead I spent far too much time looking at smudged glass.
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on July 7, 2014
Like it's predecessor 300, blood splashed scenes mark this movie for the squemish or young, but that was war in the Ancient World. Like 300 the scenes look as if done by Frank Miller in his illustrated novel. Some inaccurate history is put in for a better story, but then it is entertainment not a History of the Second Persian War. True there are historical characters but some of the history is not a paer of Herodotus' account, though doubtless his fascination with unusual stories that sneak into his accounts would have benn what he would have enjoyed. Xerxes was not a god and certainly never wore such outfits, Artemnisia's background was not really known but as the wife of the king of Halicanasis she proved a match for Thermosticles, but little is known of her before or after this time. She merely was a trusted advisor to the King of Kings, Xerxes, and brought and commanded a fleet of her own. That was a very unusual position for a woman in the 5th Century BCE, and a source of great curiosity for Heroditus,
Actually women get a good part of the story telling. Queen Gorgo of Sparta tells the story played by Lena Heady (Game of Thrones' Cersei) and Eva Green as Artemnesia. Both are stong women when women haedly are given a nodd in history.
Sullivan and all the men in the movie are lovely to watch, and you wondered if they called every gym boy to work on the movie, but they were trained for the phyicality of thr movie in a month of working out for the movie.
All together I loved the whole thing as it is a personal favorite period of history from childhood for me, but with less blood.
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on February 3, 2017
Rise of an Empire is a must have for fans of absolutely bloody sword fights and sea battles, and for those who enjoyed the slow motion action of the first 300 movie. And though the 3D was post converted after being filmed in 2D, the movie itself is a great example of 3D, as the camera work more often than not, focuses on the best way to compose the 3D effects and cinematography, to impressive results. With powerful 3D depth and dimension, and pop outs that occur often.
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on November 19, 2015
Well, I didn't expect much, but I was bored after 10 minutes. There really isn't anything here that's worth watching. The acting is terrible and wooden, there is no charisma or chemistry between the actors, and the plot is pretty much a couple of sentences long. Even free this would be a stretch to actually finish watching. Paying to see it is foolish. I see allot of 4+ star reviews; I don't think they were watching the same movie I did. They must have very low standards or maybe the people who rented it/reviewed it, got what they expected from the title. I should have known better.
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on July 3, 2014
This movie teeters on the edge of greatness in a couple scenes, but falls short far too often.

When the villains are more interesting and easier to empathize with, you know something is wrong. In fact, if not for the villains in this film, I would have stopped watching.

Eva Green's Artemisia steals the show. I'd watch a movie just about her! In fact, she is the only character developed to any length. And, seriously, after you learn a bit about her, you might just be rooting for the Persians.

Second to her is Rodrigo's weakling transformed into a "godking", Xerxes. But he does not feature enough to hold our interest.

The ONE exciting hero in this movie is played by Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo, Leonidas' wife), but she only pops up briefly.

Frankly, Themistocles and his gang are BORING, BLAND, and often spout corny dialogue to each other. Here's the main problem: There is NO character development for the "heroes"!!! How do these silly film makers expect us to CARE about cardboard cut-out Greeks!?!

Sorry to point this out, but Stapleton is not a very expressive or charismatic actor to begin with. If you do not build his character and our sympathies, you are sure to fail. No matter how much fake blood and violence you throw at us.

Violence. This is where the film succeeds. There is a lot to admire here. Many cool battle scenes.

A few acts of stupidity too: 1) riding a horse across burning, crumbling ships for no discernible reason (he could have ran); 2) taking off helmets in the course of battle--even though an arrow just bounced off your helm and a few companions got arrows through the eyeballs recently; 3) leaping off of a cliff that would break Iron Man's legs and yet landing without a twinge of pain. You get the idea.

But most of the film is reasonably exciting naval warfare. Great special effects too. Except for the blood, which looks like Smucker's strawberry jam.

If you LOVED 300, at best you will LIKE this movie.
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This movie acts as part prequel, part sequel and part parallel to the original 300 movie. Like the first movie it is a very fictionalized, loosely based adaptation of historical events. While the first film dealt with the land invasion of the Persian invasion of Greece, this one primarily deals with the naval battle that occurred roughly at the same time.

There are some flashbacks to the events that occurred in the original movie, and some of the characters from the first film have relatively minor roles. Lena Headey's character Queen Gorgo narrates this film, and is seen in glimpses throughout until the end of the movie when she has a larger role. Xerxes is back as well, and we see his origins as the "god king" and he again makes appearances throughout the movie, although his role is not as large as in the first.

This movie really revolves around the characters of Themistokles (played by Sullivan Stapleton) and the female Persian naval commander Artemisia (played by Eva Green). While she does provide the usual eye candy she does in a lot of her movies she came off as a strong, fierce, and slightly crazy warrior. Like the first movie, there is a lot of action going on. The camera plays between real-time speed and slow-motion shots in the battles, and there is a lot of dismemberment and gushing blood. Because some of the battles were at night, on the water, it was not always as easy to tell exactly what was going on. But whenever in doubt just assume someone was getting an arm or leg chopped off.

For those who get the blu ray, the movie looks and sounds great as expected. There is about an hours worth of bonus features, the most interesting to me being the comparison between as much as we know about the historical events and real people against the fictional version of the film.

You basically know what you are getting if you watch this. It is not a documentary meant to be a historical reenactment. It is highly fictionalized, way over the top and unrealistic. It is meant to be visually stunning and entertaining, and if you like films in the same genre, and liked the first movie, chances are you will like this one.
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on August 6, 2015
- Story didn't have the same clarity and direction as the first 300 film. Perhaps this is part of the difference between a Spartan and an Athenian but it made the pacing of the movie feel a bit sludgy at times.
- They stole some of the thunder of the previous film with the additions made to Xerxes story by making him seem less like a psychotic steam roller of death
- Fight scenes didn't seem to have as much tactical integrity as the previous film... perhaps another difference between Spartans and everyone else?

- Remained true to the overall feel of the previous film
- Eva Green
- Even though the situation was certainly less dire for the characters in this movie, you felt the difference in how they confronted the dangers they were facing. They weren't fearless and you never felt fearless watching this show.
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on June 24, 2014
I really wanted to just rent this, but that wasn't an option. Still, I'll probably watch it again. As noted in the Trivia and Goofs in this 2d installment, the story is a bit convoluted, but still interesting. If you ever saw the "original" "300 Spartans", you saw Leonidas and Themistocles working to defeat the Persian fleet, which that story alludes to. Here, in "300: Rise of an Empire" we finally see how this happened. Of course Themistocles didn't kill King Darius II with that arrow, but regardless, this just allowed us to see Xerses become ruler and vow vengeance upon the Greeks, specifically Athens. In fact, Xerses isn't mentioned that much in this version as it focuses more on the two main adversaries, Themistocles and Queen Artemisia. She has her own agenda. The story starts out with Themistocles trying to gather the Greeks to support him and his navy to confront the Persians. The Spartan Queen Gorgo is reluctant as her husband and his bodyguard have left to battle the Persians. For about half of the movie, there are references made to the 300 Spartans holding off the Persians at Thermopylae. We are finally told they have been defeated. Following that, the Athenian fleet is nearly destroyed and Persia begins sacking the Greek states. But like the Phoenix bird, the Greeks rise up, putting their faith in Themistocles, but with only a small fleet (6 vs 1000's?) but rejected by Queen Gorgo of Sparta, having already sacrificed her husband and his '300'. What more did Greece want? Well, they needed the Spartan fleet which Queen Gorgo refuses.
I liked the sea battles, but some just seemed over the top with computer graphics, especially near the end when Themistocles rides his horse across sinking ships to reach Artemisia. Finally,in true hero spirit, the Spartan fleet shows up and basically saves the day and the Persians are defeated in their quest to rule the Greeks.
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on June 29, 2015
Just watched this in 3D Blu-ray. They did a good job on the back story and the dialog from the Eva Green and Lena Heady were the best written compared to the male counterparts. The story was close enough to the Herodotus account to be a decent outline of what really happened. The action sequences of the naval battles were really well done and graphically easy to understand and appreciate. The blood spattering and other gratuitous sex and violence are overdone as in the first one, but oh well. On the quality of the 3D blu-ray, that was why I give this only a four star. the video and cgi were outstanding, but the DTS Master 7.1 surround diminished the center channel vocals so much that I had to double the db settings for that just to get the dialog. Someone really dropped the ball on the vocals in the mixing room. Terrible! The music scores for all the build up to the battle scenes and during the battle scenes was outstanding. Other than the dialog sound problem, it was worth the $$$. Maybe I will watch the blu-ray without 3D and find a better listening experience to hear and understand the dialog.
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