Saturday, March 29, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire

300: Rise of an Empire is a 2014 film, directed by Noam Murro and written by Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, on the Athenian general, Themistocles, during the Battle of Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis. It is a follow up to the  2007 fillm 300, taking place before, during and after the events of the first film.

Sullivan Stapleton as Themistocles
Rodrigo Santoro as King Xerxes

Queen Gorgo tells her men about the Battle of Marathon where King Darius I of Persia was killed by General Themistocles of Athens. After witnessing his father's death, Xerxes, becomes a recluse, stricken with fear against the Greeks, haunted by the dying words of his father. "Only the gods could defeat the Greeks". Darius' naval commander, Artemisia, tells him that Darius' last words were in fact a challenge and sends Xerxes on a journey through the desert to become a "god". Finding a cave and then bathing in its otherworldly liquid, Xerxes emerging as the "God-King". He returns to Persia and declares war on Greece.
Themistocles meets with the council and convinces them to provide him with a fleet to engage the Persians at sea. He then travels to Sparta to ask for help, but is informed that King Leonidas is consulting the Oracle, and Queen Gorgo is reluctant to side with Athens. Themistocles learns that Artemisia was born Greek, but defected to Persia as her family was murdered by Greek hoplites and she was taken as a sex slave to the Greeks, who left her for dead in the streets. She was rescued and adopted by the Persians. Her lust for vengeance gained the attention of King Darius and he made her a naval commander after she killed many of his enemies.
Themistocles leads his men to the Aegean Sea. They ram their ships into the Persian ships and charge them, slaughtering several soldiers before retreating. The following day, the blood bath continues. Impressed with Themistocles' skills, Artemisia has him brought onto her ship where she tries to convince him to join the Persians as her second-in-command. They then proceed to have sex. He refuses which ends their sexual encounter. Artemisia then swears revenge.
The Persians spill tar into the sea and send suicide bombers to board the Greek ships with their flame bombs.Themistocles manages to kill one of the soldiers, who falls into the tar carrying a torch, causing ships from both sides to explode. Themistocles is thrown into the sea by the explosion and nearly drowns as a result. Luckily,  he is rescued by Calisto but not before seeing his friend, Scyllas, succumbs to his wounds. Believing Themistocles to be dead, Artemisia and her forces withdraw.
Themistocles learns that the 300 have been killed by Xerxes and returns to Athens to confront Ephialtes, the deformed Spartan traitor. Epialtes reveals that Xerxes plans to attack Athens and, being regretful of his actions, welcomes death. But Themistocles spares him instead. He tells the traitor to warn Xerxes that the Greek forces are gathering at Salamis. He then visits Gorgo, who is in mourning Leonidas, to once again ask for her help, but she is too overcome with grief to be of any help to him. Before leaving, Themistocles returns Leonidas' sword, which he took from Ephialtes and urges Gorgo to avenge Leonidas.
In Athens, Xerxes' army is laying waste when Ephialtes arrives to deliver Themistocles' message. Artemisia is shocked to hear that Themistocles is still alive and leaves to ready her troops for battle. The Greek ships crash into the Persians ships, and the two armies battle, this is to be the decisive Battle of Salamis. Themistocles and Artemisia fight, and Themistocles overpowers her.
Gorgo has been narrating the tale to her Spartan army the entire time, now leads them to assist in the battle alongside other allied Greeks. Themistocles urges Artemisia to surrender, but she tries to kill him and is stabbed through the stomach as a result. With her dying breath, she sees Xerxes turning his back on her as he retreats. Themistocles and Gorgo silently acknowledge one another's alliance and the two them charge at the opposing Persians with the rest of the Spartans behind them.
I give this movie 3/5. It is the bloodiest, the most historically inaccurate, the movie with the greatest slightly racist undertones that I will probably watch this year....and yet, it wasn't half bad. I found it quite enjoyable, in fact. While it's not as good as the first 300 film, it wasn't a terrible sequel. In my opinion, Sullivan Stapleton falls short of the strong leader that Gerard Butler was in the original but he did fine as this movie's protagonist. The women definitely ran the show in this movie. Lena Headey made a great Queen Gorgo and was especially glad to see her in this movie...and actually wield a sword. But the person who stole the show was Eva Green as Artemisia. She was a baddy in this movie and she did it well. She was absolutely perfect in the role. Nearly ever review that I have watched regarding this film (JeremyJahns, Chris Stuckmann and Schmoesknow) said that she was the best part of the movie and I would have to agree. 
If you want a fun movie on a Saturday night, that you can turn mind off to, this is it! 

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