HAH-OOH! HAH-OOH! 300: Rise of an Empire (a review)

There comes a time where one must needs to live vicariously through a movie.

This is that movie.

Before I begin, those of you who have been around this blog for a while, know my review policy. For those of you who don’t, or who haven’t been around long enough, the short and sweet is; I will never give a book or movie five stars. It defeats the purpose of a review. How annoying is it to go into Amazon and see a five star review consisting of OH MY GOD THIS THING IS AWESOME (insert your own choice of spelling here). Conversely, one star reviews amount to the same thing. So, my rating system ranges from 1.5 to 4.5 with 4.5 being the highest I will ever give something.

And now you know.

If you don't know the reference you fail at life.
If you don’t know the reference you fail at life.


This. Is. ATHENS!
This. Is. ATHENS!

DO NOT go in expecting a continuation from where 300 left off.

Remember this scene?
Remember this scene?


Yes. Someone did that. He had to be about six or seven. He also asked multiple times if he could open his eyes.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an R rated movie. This is also the ‘sequel’ (I use that term loosely) to the movie that had to have been the BLOODIEST to come out in 2008.

One does not simply bring their child to an R rated movie.

That's right. I went there.
That’s right. I went there.

Seriously folks. Hire a damn sitter.


Back to the movie.

This movie.
This movie.

This movie is not a continuation of 300, rather it is a parallel to the Battle of Thermopylae. It was not just Sparta the Persians wanted, it was all of Greece; the battle didn’t start with Thermopylae, it started at Marathon.

That’s where this movie starts. Which made me very happy. Because after 300 I sorta kinda became a bit obsessed with what is known as The Battle For The West-encompassing Darius’ attempt at Marathon, through Thermopylae, and into the final show down between Xerxes and all of Greece.

Xerxes did not win.
Xerxes did not win.

My only grief with this movie was the special effects. I wish the studio that had done the effects for 300 would have been employed to do them this time around. Maybe they were, but it didn’t seem that way. The blood looked generated, not as refined or even comic-book-y that was the draw of 300. Don’t get me wrong, the special effects were phenomenal-to the point where I wanted to pick up an invisible game controller and start beating people-but where it counted, they felt forced and off.

Beyond that?

This shit needs to hurry up and come to DVD so I can marathon the both of them.

This. Is. SPARTA!
This. Is. SPARTA!

Hollywood History should always be taken with a grain of salt. Embellishment is the loosest of terms one can apply to movies that state they’re ‘based on a true story’ or ‘historical events’. A quick perusal of any book-Herodotus or any of the others who have written about the Battle of Thermopylae (Hot Gates in Greek)-will tell you that 300 Spartan men did indeed go to war, and had around 2,000 others along with them. Another glance will tell you that Sparta actually had two kings, Leonidas went to war at 65, and that the oracle of Delphi specified a ‘wooden wall’ to win the Battle of Marathon. It was rightly puzzled out to be ‘ships’ by Themistocles, but sadly not touched on in 300: Rise of an Empire.

That being said, this movie was so worth the watch.

Martyrs are made
Martyrs are made

Queen Gorgo, wife to the fallen Leonidas, narrates our story, detailing the Battle of Marathon and Themistocles’ mistake in killing Darius, not his son Xerxes. We’re shown how Marathon was won and Xerxes’ descent into madness. To his credit, Darius said to leave the Greeks be on his deathbed. Artemesia had other plans.

We will dance on the backs of dead Greeks
We will dance on the backs of dead Greeks

Blinded by grief, Xerxes is easily manipulated into believing that he is the God-King and will rule the known world. He takes a walkabout into the desert, goes a bit crazy, and emerges from a pool as the ridiculously tall, gold bedecked God-King.

Him AND his golden underpants
Him AND his golden underpants

Artemesia is his right hand woman and leader of his Navy; a woman with a vendetta to the men that took her family from her and raped her again and again and again until she was left on Persian shores, and one bad. ass. bitch.

She was the best part of the movie. Her an Themistocles together? Powerhouses.

She tried to get what she wanted the old fashioned way. It didn't work out so well.
She tried to get what she wanted the old fashioned way.

The movie took a bit of orienting. Lena Heady narrates and you’re shown the Battle of Marathon. The movie continues on, paralleling the Battle of Thermopylae. It won’t help you understand that, you’re going to have to figure it out on your own.

That sounds easier than it is, trust me. It took me a minute to understand the time differences between Lena Heady (Queen Gorgo) telling the story and Themistocles time in the Athenian Senate to his request of the Spartans for Naval help at the Battle of Marathon. A little editing and a bit clearer writing would have helped make the transition easier.

All hail the Queen.
All hail the Queen.

Once you get there, however, you get to see Athens fight for the freedom of all Greece. You get to see glorious battle on the high seas. You get to see two of the best strategic minds in history duke it out with ships and flame and sword.

No, I’m not talking about Xerxes, who is little more than a gold puppet on a throne.

Artemesia is one of the greatest women in history. Themistocles is her match.


History will attest that Themistocles was the man who wanted a united Greece. Leonidas and his 300 were the men that gave it to him. You see Themistocles beg and plead with Sparta not once, but twice, for her help against the invading Persians.

This movie is bloody, gory, sexy, violence and although you won’t hear the HAH-OOH! HAH-OOH! that got your blood up in 300 until the end, this is still the movie that will have you wishing for your own sword and a Persian to run through.


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