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March 15th, 2014

Movie Review - 300: Rise of an Empire

300: Rise of an Empire

Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Heady, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro, Jack O'Connell, Andrew Tiernan, Igar Naor, and more.

Directed by: Noam Murro Screenplay by: Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad Based on the Graphic Novel by: Frank Miller Cinematography by: Simon Duggan Music by: Junkie XL

Premise: Starting before the events of the "300", Queen Gorgo tells the story of Themistocles and his inadvertent triggering ten years before of events which drove Xerxes to wonder the dessert and absorb pure evil to become a God King with only one goal, the complete destruction of Athens and all Greece and everything they represent. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Sullivan Stapleton did well as the tactician and guilt burdened Athenian Themistocles. Being made to follow the more intense King Leonidas (as portrayed by Gerard Butler in the original "300"), placed a major handicap on Stapleton's performance, as viewers can't help but compare the two, especially as Leonidas is mentioned several times. Lena Heady reprises her role as Queen Gorgo, and she makes it incredibly easy to believe she is a true Spartan Queen. Eva Green was great as the violated and vengeful Artemisia. She exuded both competence as a tactician and general and a poisonous sexuality that was enthralling.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: While the original "300" stuck to battles on land, "300: The Rise of an Empire" is filled with sea battles and close hand to hand combat. The recreations of the ships and execution of attacks looked amazing. Creative blood splatter and appendage removal populate the film throughout. In the beginning, the audience is given an unusual treat, by seeing first hand why helmets and other armor are quite important during battles, despite not seeming so in most movie combat. Helmets and armor/shields can definitely make the difference, even if later on helmets grew out of favor. (Hollywood has always appeared to believe that if you can't see an actor's face, the audience will think less of the film. Anyone who's watched "Dredd" with Karl Urban, can testify that not seeing the actors full face can actually work very well.)

The only thing that could have been done better with regards to the special effects and CGI would have been the introduction of certain details which were eventually revealed in later battles, but would have made the experience so much better if they'd shown them straight from the beginning. For example, the manner by which the Greeks kept their place on deck during ramming maneuvers, or the fact they too were using rowers to power their ships.

3) Story - Thumbs Up: Like the "300", "300: Rise of an Empire" clings to the general history of the period, then spices it up with a little mysticism for added flavor. The timeline pulls back to before the "300" then works up to it and beyond. The most fun was the fact they kept the tactics of several of the sea battles of the time, which were a lot of fun to watch being carried out.

Artemisia was indeed a female naval general in the navy of Xerxes, and she was deemed quite capable and intelligent, but the rest of the information imparted about her in the film is not accurate, although it did make for some great motivation for wanting to destroy Greece. From what I read, it was Xerxes who ordered the naval attacks against the Greeks in open water, while Artemisia had counselled against them, already aware of the Greeks prowess on the water.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: The film has a beach side battle and many sea battles with close hand to hand combat. Several of these get the slow motion treatment, making their savagery beautiful. The shield and helmet use showed clearly why they were such necessary articles in warfare of this type. Outstanding choreography on all the battle sequences.

5) Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The visuals close up were great, and so were the far off shots showing a burning Athens, the fields of ships poised for battle, and other locations. When the Greeks first go against the Persian's in the sea, just seeing the view of the hundreds of masts, then the giant waves bringing the ships down right on top of them was an awesome visual.

Conclusion: "300: Rise of an Empire" does not reach the heights of the original "300" but offers a lot to enjoy regardless. Seeing the sea battles and cool tactics employed was a definite treat. Getting to watch the Athenians battle with their shields offensively and defensively? Priceless.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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