I have not been to the movies in about six and a half months, which means I have not seen any new movies in that time. I am absolutely thrilled that the first movie that I go see after such a long hiatus was 300: Rise of an Empire.
300: Rise of an Empire is not exactly the sequel or really the prequel to 300 because the two story lines take place at the same time, they’re both while the Persians are attacking Greece. This movie goes a little before the main attack and continues a little after 300 ended… While 300 focused solely on Sparta, as I’m sure everyone will remember that oh so famous line as Leonidas kicks the poor messenger into the well “THIS IS SPARTA!” the newest installment follows the Athenians and touches on the rest of Greece as well. Themistocles is our hero and hot damn is he ever fine! You’ll notice in watching these movies that apparently you need to be ripped and gorgeous to be Greek, which I’m totally fine with by the way.
Apparently it is all Theo’s fault that there is still a war with Persia by the way. That’s what I’m going to call Themistocles from now on, Theo, so much shorter and I won’t have to keep going back and trying to figure out how to spell his name… Anyways, apparently Theo’s got this really weird eyesight (which my brother and I commented on several times throughout the entire movie) and he was able to see King Darius of Persia on a boat really far away and, just as incredibly, he was able to loose an arrow that, though not instantly, killed Darius. Now the reason that I said it’s Theo’s fault that Persia is still at war with Greece is because he killed King Darius and not his crazy son Xerxes. Though to be fair, there was no way that Theo could have known that Xerxes was crazy, mostly because it was Artemisia who really made Xerxes go crazy.
Xerxes looks like he was pretty much a disappointment to his father, I think the narrator actually says as much, and Artemisia (was going to shorten her name, but it’s beautiful, just like her) is kind of King Darius’ ‘adopted’ daughter. She’s smart and strong, and very skilled and evil and a little crazy, she’s also very good at getting what she wants, if you know what I mean. She is truly evil, Artemisia, but I find her character very beautiful and sad. It is learned, through a spy named Scyllas who was aboard Artemisia’s ship, that she was actually born Greek and when the rest of her past is revealed, you can’t help but cheer for her. She defected to Persia because her family was raped and murdered by Greek hoplites (basically just citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek city-states) and she was taken as a sex slave. Artemisia was later left for dead in the streets but she was rescued, adopted and trained by the Persians, it was her anger and her lust for vengeance that fueled her and soon nobody could best her skill with a sword. She apparently rose quickly to power, like I said, good at getting what she wants, and was made the naval commander by King Darius.
The reason Xerxes goes all crazy and ‘god-king’ is because of his father’s last words, which were meant as a warning but with Artemisia whispering in his ear, he saw them as a challenge. His father said that only a god could deal with the Greeks. So Xerxes does some ritual with linen soaked in oil of some sort and wonders out into the desert and then into some pool in a cave full of hermits and he comes out completely bald, ripped and covered in gold piercings and chain. Not sure the connection there… But Xerxes has now transformed into a ‘god-king.’
Xerxes isn’t mentioned as much as you’d think in this movie, it is mostly about the battle on the Aegean Sea and therefore it revolves around Theo and Artemisia. Being a battle on the sea you really would think that numbers and the sheer size of the ships would play a huge role in who would win, but it doesn’t… All Greeks are apparently crazy and Theo’s tactic in fighting this massive armada on day one is just to ram the hell out of them. They form a sort of battle circle and as the Persians advance they split the circle and ram them from both sides. On the second day, you obviously can’t use the same tactic, so the Greeks use the weather, their smaller fleet and ships and their superior knowledge of the area to their advantage. They basically just sit out in the open until the Persians start their attack run and then the Greeks book it in reverse! The Persians rush into the fog after them, not knowing that the Greeks have funneled themselves into a kind of narrow so the Persians just ram headlong into these giant rocks or mountains! I gotta say, I laughed a little too hard at this.
Artemisia is pissed by this point and has decided that she’s going to take matters into her own hands and she invites Theo onto her ship. There is a crazy intense and angry sex scene and I feel terrible for Theo because it ended too soon! Basically Artemisia tells Theo that she is very impressed with his leadership and she wants him to join her, to stand beside her and command the Persian fleet together. That’s the reason the sex ends too soon, Theo, not thinking of the ‘immediate’ consequence says no, so Artemisia kicks him off of the ship basically naked…
Now I’m not sure if it’s the same night, or the morning after, but because Theo said no, Artemisia, who is used to getting what she wants, is fuming! She does not take this lying down (HA!). This is where you know that Artemisia is Greek, she’s bonkers! She apparently has this really big ship, very fortified and you’re not able to actually see any crew, but this ship just spews this black crap, which you later realize is tar. It gets sprayed into the ocean and onto the Greek ships, it’s just absolutely everywhere. Artemisia then sends in her personal guard who are these men with these backpack type things that I’m assuming are filled with tar, they dive into the ocean, swim over to the Greek ships and climb aboard, all while the rest of the Persians are flinging fire bombs and arrows and lances on fire at the Greeks and into the tar filled ocean. All together, not good. One of Artemisia’s suicide bombers (basically) makes his way onto Theo’s ship and pretty darn close to Theo, as soon as Artemisia sees this, she sends a flaming arrow right into the guy’s pack and a couple of seconds later there is a massive explosion!
So we think poor Theo is dead because he’s basically drowning and I think he’s hallucinating because of the crazy creatures he sees… But no! He’s saved! Yay! Artemisia doesn’t know this though. So while the Athenians are licking their wounds and trying to come up with some sort of battle plan, Artemisia goes to see Xerxes who, at this point, has defeated the 300 Spartans. Theo learns of Sparta’s defeat and also of the betrayal by that little deformed Spartan turned Persian turned I don’t even know because he’s now betrayed Xerxes. So Theo goes to talk to the sad little man and learns all of Xerxes evil plans to lay waste to the beautiful Athens and Theo being so nice decides instead of killing the deformed guy to use him to deliver a misleading message to Xerxes, because we all know how well messengers are treated… Theo also goes to Sparta to ask the Spartans to stand with the rest of Greece in their ambush and hopefully defeat of Xerxes and his Persians. Bad timing Theo my man, the Queen is currently mourning the death of her husband, King Leonidas. Luckily though Theo thought to return Leonidas’ sword, which the cripple had stolen, to the Queen, he also knows how to get under a Spartan Queen’s skin. He tells her to avenge King Leonidas’ death! However when he leaves Sparta, he still didn’t get a yes, she said no.
Xerxes is having a blast just destroying one of the most beautiful and cultural cities in history, Athens when the cripple shows up with his message saying where the Greeks will be. I don’t think Xerxes cares, but once Artemisia finds out that Theo is alive she gets pissed, like only a warrior woman can, and takes her entire fleet to go attack the Greeks, despite Xerxes telling her not to and saying that it could be a trap and what not.
So the final battle begins, much like the first day was, Theo and the Athenians just ram the Persian boats to hell and hop from one boat to another killing people. Theo has another crazy vision thing and sees Artemisia and rushes over to kick her ass, he kicks ass all the way to her, including the creepy guys in the weird masks… When he gets there they fight for a bit, but he actually gives her a chance to surrender. Now don’t take that the wrong way. It was a hard-fought battle, both are hurt and bleeding, it’s not like Theo just came along and dominated the one on one fight with Artemisia. Anyways Artemisia declines Theo’s offer of surrender and tries to kill Theo and so Theo kills her first.
Despite all of this, the overall battle is not really going well. It’s going about as well as one can expect though due to the fact that the Athenians are incredibly outnumbered. But you must remember those pesky, angry, avenging Spartans. Queen of Sparta has decided to joint the battle and brings along the rest of the Greek city-states, which I can’t remember the names of right now… The Greeks now outnumber the Persians and all there is left to do is to kick some Persian ass!
My brother is convinced that there will be a third movie because of the way the movie ends, there’s no victor in the movie, you can guess and say that the Greeks will win, but you don’t see it. The last scene in the movie is Theo and the Queen letting out battle cries and running towards the rest of the Persians. I don’t know if I agree with him, but it definitely leaves room for a third installment and I will not complain if there is a third movie. I love these movies. They are dark and gory and absolutely beautiful. This movie was especially stunning. I don’t care if it was real or CGI, the battle scenes in the ocean were magnificent, as was everything else. I can’t really pinpoint my favourite moments, that’s how good the movie was, I was just waiting for the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. The actors they chose for the main characters were fantastic choices, I had never heard of Sullivan Stapleton before I rushed onto the computer when I got home from the movie to see who this gorgeous man was who played Themistocles, he was great though and I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in leading roles such as this, at least I hope so. Eva Green as Artemisia, I can’t think of a better fit! She was brilliant! If you watched this movie and you’re thinking that you’ve seen her before and you just can’t place it, you’re probably thinking of her portrayal as Vesper Lynd, the ‘money’ in James Bond’s Casino Royale.
I’m not sure that there’s anything else to say about this movie. It was fantastic. I recommend this movie, as well as 300 to everyone!