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Patricia Puentes

The 27 Most Anticipated Movies of 2022

300 empire movie review

We can’t believe it’s already almost April either. But there’s still a lot of 2022 ahead of us and we thought about taking a renewed look at our selection of some of 2022’s most anticipated films, especially considering the calendar of releases has changed a lot in the last few weeks. 

Bear in mind that nothing is set in stone, so this isn’t a comprehensive selection. New titles will pop up as the new year unfolds. Plus, most of these titles are tentpole movies and/or sequels or adaptations from pre-existing franchises. Expect the year 2022 to be full of those, but also keep in mind that there’ll also be a fair share of must-see indie movies as the year progresses. It’s hard to know if 2022 will be the year that cinema-going returns to normal, or if we’ll all still be doing a lot of streaming at home for certain titles, while opting for the big screen for others. 

And yes, some of the titles on this list are movies that we were already looking forward to watching back in 2019 — ahem, Top Gun: Maverick .

Winter 2022: Movies That Have Already Premiered

300 empire movie review

The 355 (January 7): This action-espionage ensemble stars Jessica Chastain as a CIA agent who joins forces with a German agent (Diane Kruger), a former MI6 ally who specializes in computers (Lupita Nyong’o) and a Colombian psychologist (Penélope Cruz) on a mission to recover a top-secret weapon. Bingbing Fan plays the mysterious woman who follows their every move. The 355 is now available on Peacock and on video on demand (VOD).

Scream (January 14): This is the fifth installment of the Scream franchise. Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette return to their iconic roles alongside newcomers Melissa Barrera, Kyle Gallner, Mason Gooding and Jenna Ortega. Twenty-five years after the brutal murders that terrified the small town of Woodsboro, a new killer dons the Ghostface mask and targets a group of teenagers. Scream is now available on Paramount+ and VOD.

Moonfall (February 4): Master of disaster and climate change advocate Roland Emmerich co-writes and directs this film that sees the Moon on the brink of colliding with Earth and annihilating our world. Halle Berry plays a former astronaut who partners with another astronaut (Patrick Wilson) and a conspiracy theorist (John Bradley from Game of Thrones ). Together they’ll try to save humanity as they discover our Moon is not what we think it is.

Death on the Nile (February 11): This new adaptation of a classic Agatha Christie novel has Kenneth Branagh directing and playing the lead detective, Hercule Poirot — the Irish filmmaker already starred in and directed Murder on the Orient Express (2017). This one has been postponed several times due not only to the pandemic but also because a prominent role in the movie is played by Armie Hammer. The movie debuts on Hulu and HBO Max on March 29. 

Uncharted (February 18): Based on the eponymous action-adventure video game series , the movie stars Tom Holland ( Spider-Man: Homecoming ) as Nathan Drake and Mark Wahlberg as Victor Sullivan. They both embark on an epic international adventure — Barcelona is prominently featured in the trailer — in the pursuit of “the greatest treasure never found.” Meanwhile, Nathan starts discovering new details about his long-lost brother.

The Batman (March 4): Robert Pattinson dons the cape and the pointy-eared mask in this new reboot of the bat franchise. Matt Reeves ( Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ) co-writes and directs the movie, which also stars Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, Jeffrey Wright and John Turturro. Don’t miss our article on the hidden details in The Batman ’s first trailer and the movie’s inception and our full review of The Batman . 

Turning Red (March 11): Pixar’s first 2022 title is directed by Domee Shi, who won an Oscar for her short film Bao (2018). The movie follows the story of 13-year-old Mei Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang), who turns into a giant red panda every time she gets excited. Sandra Oh voices Mei Lee’s overbearing mom, Ming. Read our review of Turning Red here . 

Deep Water (March 18): Based on the novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith and starring Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck, this is one of the titles that has been postponed several times because of COVID-19. De Armas and Affleck play a married couple who have an arrangement to keep their marriage afloat. But when their games turn into murder, things get messier. Highsmith’s source material offers a portrayal of the fake veneer covering American suburbia — let’s hope the film does too.

The Lost City (March 25): Sandra Bullock returns to her comedy roots starring in this action-adventure where she plays Loretta Sage. She’s a popular romance-adventure writer on a promotional tour with Alan (Channing Tatum), the model who has always portrayed Loretta’s main character: the hero Dash. When Loretta is kidnapped by a billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) who wants to find an ancient lost city’s treasure from one of her novels, Alan decides to take the lead and rescue her as Dash would do. They end up in the middle of the jungle needing to work together to stay alive and find the ancient treasure before it’s lost forever.

Spring Movies 2022

300 empire movie review

Morbius (April 1): Set in the same universe as Venom , Morbius stars the chameleonic Jared Leto as Dr. Michael Morbius. He suffers from a rare blood disease and, while trying to find a cure for himself and others, he ends up transformed into someone with an urge for blood and other vampiric tendencies. Watching the method actor Leto transform himself into a mindless creature may prove to be one of the most appealing aspects of the film.

Ambulance (April 8): Michael Bay produces and directs this film starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II ( Candyman ) as Will, a vet desperate to pay for his wife’s medical bills. His adoptive brother, Dany (Jake Gyllenhaal), is a professional criminal. When Will asks him for help, Dany enlists Will in a $32 million bank robbery. The two of them end up in an adrenaline-fueled chase through the streets of Los Angeles, inside of an ambulance driven by EMT Cam (Eiza González).

Downton Abbey: A New Era (May 20): First there were the six seasons of the television drama about a family of British aristocrats, their estate and the servants who allowed for everything to run smoothly. Then there was a 2019 movie too, and now it’s time for a film sequel: A New Era . Julian Fellowes, the creator of the show, returns once more here as the writer. And yes, the good news is that despite the dire health diagnosis the Dowager Countess revealed to her granddaughter Mary (Michelle Dockery) at the end of the previous movie, Maggie Smith returns to A New Era to hopefully dispense fresh doses of perfectly delivered puns. 

Top Gun: Maverick (May 27): The original Top Gun opened in 1986. Now, this sequel that’s been decades in the making follows Tom Cruise’s Maverick after he’s served more than 30 years as a pilot in the Navy. When he has to train a group of Top Gun graduates for an impossible mission, Maverick meets Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his long-lost friend Goose. Expect spectacular aerial sequences and a lot of need for speed.

Jurassic World: Dominion (June 10): Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return for this sixth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise and sequel to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018). Franchise originals Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern also star in this movie. Lightyear (June 17): Who was the Space Ranger who inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy from the Toy Story franchise? Chris Evans voices Buzz in this origin story that Pixar describes as a sci-fi action-adventure film.

300 empire movie review

Elvis (June 24): Musical heavy-weight Baz Luhrmann ( Moulin Rouge ) directs and co-writes this biopic starring Austin Butler ( The Carrie Diaries ) as music legend Elvis Presley. The film also stars Tom Hanks as Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker. “The story delves into the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America,” reads Warner Bros.’ official synopsis of the film.

Summer Movies 2022

300 empire movie review

Minions: The Rise of Gru (July 1): Allow me the yellow indulgence since I’ve been a fan of these adorable polyglot creatures since I first saw Despicable Me in a movie theater back in 2010. This second prequel of the Minions origin story — and fifth installment of the Despicable Me franchise — is set in the 1970s and follows a 12-year-old Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his faithful army of yellow sidekick followers. 

Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8): This fourth Thor movie — the second one helmed by the New Zealander Taika Waititi — sees Natalie Portman returning as astrophysicist and Thor’s ex, Jane Foster. Waititi, who’s also taken writing duties for this film, has teased at its romantic components . The movie will also feature Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Christian Bale.

Nope (July 22): After Get Out and Us , here comes the next psychological horror film written and directed by Academy Award-winner Jordan Peele. Details are still very much under wraps for this movie, which stars Academy Award-winner Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Oscar nominee Steven Yeun . You can read more about Nope and its enigmatic first trailer here . 

Fall Movies 2022

300 empire movie review

Don’t Worry Darling (September 23): Olivia Wilde’s second feature film after she directed the outstanding Booksmart (2019) stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles as a married couple living in a utopian experimental community in the 1950s. Pugh plays a housewife and someone who fears that the company her husband works for may be hiding something. The movie also stars Wilde alongside Chris Pine, Gemma Chan and Kiki Layne.

Spider-Man: Across Spider-Verse (Part One) (October 7): After the multiverse-set Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film and was lauded for its diverse representation — the movie stars Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) as an Afro-Latino kid who also happens to be Spider-Man — we really are looking forward to this Spider-Verse sequel. Not to mention, it’s one of several animated films we’re most excited about seeing this year. 

Black Adam (October 21): This eleventh installment in the DC Extended Universe is directed by the Catalan filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra and stars Dwayne Johnson as the titular villain. Pierce Brosnan and Aldis Hodge also appear in this Johnson-starring vehicle that could see him become Shazam’s archenemy. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11): Ryan Coogler returns as co-writer and director of the much-anticipated sequel to his Black Panther (2018), the first superhero film to be nominated for a coveted Best Picture nod at the Oscars. Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba and Angela Bassett reprise their roles from the original movie. The multi-talented Michaela Coel ( I May Destroy You ) will play a new role in this sequel. To honor the memory of the late Chadwick Boseman, who played Black Panther in the original film, Marvel has announced that this movie won’t recast the titular role . Also, Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever aren’t the only two Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to be released in 2022. There’ll also be Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6).

She Said (November 18): Maria Schrader ( Unorthodox ) directs this adaptation of Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor’s book in which they relate their New York Times investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and abuse behavior. The exposé helped further the #MeToo movement. The film stars Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan, Patricia Clarkson and Andre Braugher.

Avatar 2 (December 16): Thirteen years after James Cameron introduced us to Pandora in Avatar , here comes the second installment of this story. Zoe Saldaña, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver all return to Avatar 2 , alongside newcomers Kate Winslet, Vin Diesel and Michelle Yeoh. The franchise is expected to have five installments in total, with each new movie being released two years apart.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody (December 21): Naomi Ackie ( Small Axe ) plays the late singer Whitney Houston in this musical biopic that’s directed by Kasie Lemons ( Harriet ) and also stars Clarke Peters, Stanley Tucci and Nafessa Williams.


300 empire movie review


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300 empire movie review

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300 empire movie review

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I didn't bone up on my ancient Greek history before seeing 2006's "300," nor did I do so before seeing its new followup, "300: Rise of an Empire." Not because I feel that such research is above my pay grade, but because no matter how much research the filmmakers might say went into their subsequent visions, I know that realism and/or actual accuracy was scarcely Job One for them. That being the case, though, I was ill-prepared for the fact that "Rise of an Empire," which is not so much a sequel to "300" as a companion piece (given that it depicts events that happen simultaneously to those depicted in "300." For example, the titular number of feisty, cut Spartans getting [spoiler alert!] slaughtered by a bunch of fey Persians of larger numbers), opens with an action montage accompanied by maybe twenty minutes of expository voice-over. Or so it seems. And for all that, I didn't get much of a sense of historical narrative from the movie.

There's one Greek fellow, an Athenian, who believes in the "experiment" called "democracy," and he wants the Spartans to back him up as the fey Persians, spurred by possibly homosexual golden (literally!) boy Xerxes, come to lay waste to his model city. They're coming by ship, and the navy is commanded by the golden boy's sister, Artemisia, played by the sexually intimidating Eva Green , who's going Full Diamanda Galas here, only without the singing. And this naval commander, an unusual one by anybody's standards, is both intrigued and vexed by the Athenian, who goes by the name Themistocles, and is played by a stalwart Sullivan Stapleton .

While the first "300," based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller , was relentlessly male-driven in a way that was both relentlessly homoerotic and blithely homophobic, the introduction (no doubt historically inaccurate) of Green's character to the combat changes the sexual dynamic in a way that's pretty ridiculous and also kind of jaw-dropping. I hated the Zack-Snyder-directed "300" with a passion: aside from its in-your-face hateful war-mongering sentiments and the aforementioned homophobia, the thing looked as if it had been shot through lenses that had been smeared with dog feces prior to each take. "Rise of an Empire," directed by Noam Munro (who also made " Smart People ," which clearly established his 3D action movie bonafides…no wait…) is entirely more engaging by dint of being absolutely impossible to take even a little bit seriously. The ruthlessness of Green's character is taken to extremes that meld Medea to the cheesiest serial you can name, and is hence delicious.

The rest of the film's over-the-topness is pretty purposeful as well. Every time a sword swipes a battling warrior, the screen fills up with a lake's worth of spurting blood, to the extent that you really start hoping that one of the film's character's suffers a paper cut, just to see what happens. Also, the color palette here is more expansive than in Snyder's original: in addition to dun, there's also a lot of blue, a dark gray, and lots and lots of crimson. Is there intelligent dialogue, or anything actually emotionally stirring? By my lights, no. But in terms of sheer bloody spectacle, "300: Rise of an Empire" gets a lot of mileage out of sheer venal spectacle. Just don't try to derive a history lesson from the movie.

Glenn Kenny

Glenn Kenny

Glenn Kenny was the chief film critic of Premiere magazine for almost half of its existence. He has written for a host of other publications and resides in Brooklyn. Read his answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire here .

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Film Credits

300: Rise of an Empire movie poster

300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo

Sullivan Stapleton as Themistocles

Eva Green as Artemisia

Jack O'Connell as Calisto

Rodrigo Santoro as Xerxes

David Wenham as Dillios

Callan Mulvey as Scyllias

Andrew Tiernan as Ephialtes

Ashraf Barhom as General Bandari

Andrew Pleavin as Daxos

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300: Rise of an Empire

2014, Action/Adventure, 1h 43m

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Critics consensus.

It's bound to hit some viewers as an empty exercise in stylish gore, and despite a gonzo starring performance from Eva Green, 300: Rise of an Empire is a step down from its predecessor. Read critic reviews

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  • Rating: R (Nudity|A Sex Scene|Some Language|Stylized Bloody Violence)
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
  • Original Language: English
  • Director: Noam Murro
  • Producer: Gianni Nunnari , Mark Canton , Zack Snyder , Deborah Snyder , Bernie Goldmann
  • Writer: Zack Snyder , Kurt Johnstad
  • Release Date (Theaters): Mar 7, 2014  wide
  • Release Date (Streaming): Jun 24, 2014
  • Box Office (Gross USA): $106.6M
  • Runtime: 1h 43m
  • Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Sound Mix: Dolby Digital, Datasat

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News & interviews for 300: rise of an empire, critic reviews for 300: rise of an empire, audience reviews for 300: rise of an empire.

300 empire movie review

  • Sep 08, 2016 The ties to the chronologically simultaneously happening original film are actually pretty well done. The story is not as straight forward and the visuals not quite as unique and striking, but still pretty impressive. The action is top notch, though and while some dialogs are just as shallow in their "die for honor" pathos the result is overall really entertaining. The end comes a little suddenly, while I would have been okay with following those battles a little longer. Still, pretty decent. Super Reviewer

300 empire movie review

  • Jul 29, 2015 Eva Green's performance is the only thing that will keep you watching. Super Reviewer

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300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

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Film Review: ‘300: Rise of an Empire’

Eva Green commands the screen — and a large Persian naval fleet — in the highly entertaining not-quite sequel to Zack Snyder's "300."

By Scott Foundas

Scott Foundas

300 Rise of an Empire Movie Review

Few recent tentpoles have lent themselves less naturally to a sequel than Zack Snyder’s “300,” a movie in which nearly all the major characters died, while a brief coda showed a unified Greek army about to lay waste to the remnants of Persia. But Snyder and co-writer Kurt Johnstad handily surmount that problem in “300: Rise of an Empire,” which offers a “meanwhile, back in Athens” story to complement the Spartan narrative of the first film, along with an even higher quotient of impaled torsos, severed limbs and rippling Mediterranean musculature. Anchored by Eva Green’s fearsome performance as a Persian naval commander whose vengeful bloodlust makes glowering King Xerxes seem a mere poseur, this highly entertaining time-filler lacks the mythic resonances that made “300” feel like an instant classic, but works surprisingly well on its own terms. Arriving in theaters on the box office fumes of “The Legend of Hercules” and “Pompeii,” it should prove to be the ancient epic auds have been waiting for.

If “300” was largely a boys-only affair, “Rise of an Empire” very much belongs to the women — specifically one woman named Artemisia (Green), who sports a warrior’s stoic countenance and the blazing azure stare of a femme very fatale. As a young girl, we learn, the Greek-born Artemisia watched helplessly as her entire village (including her parents) was slaughtered by other invading Greeks, earning her a healthy distrust of her own people. Spared but sold into slavery, she was rescued by the Persian King Darius (Igal Naor), father of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), who raised her as a kind of surrogate daughter and stoked her warrior ethos. And while Xerxes battles things out with the good King Leonidas (Gerard Butler, seen in recycled footage from the first film) on land, it is Artemisia who leads Persia’s charge against Greece by sea.

She’s a ferocious presence, but well matched by Sparta’s own Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey, reprising her “300” role), who has less screen time but also serves as the movie’s narrator, holding forth on the long and bloody backstory of the Greco-Persian wars as she guides a warship toward a looming battle. (Both “300” films have made effective use of a slightly formal, literary voiceover to evoke the oral tradition of Greek epic poetry.) Fittingly regal and stern, Gorgo recounts the first clash of these two great armies, a decade earlier at the town of Marathon, which plays out in flashback as the first of the movie’s extravagant battle scenes. The outnumbered Greeks engage the weary Persians before they have even managed to row their boats ashore, while the valiant Gen. Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) hurls the fateful spear that deals King Darius a mortal blow. We learn, too, of the strange dark magic by which Xerxes evolved from his once-human form into his more familiar appearance: that of an 8-foot-tall Grace Jones after a rough night at a piercing parlor.

All this is neatly dispensed in the first 30 minutes or so, leaving the rest of the running time for the kind of elaborately choreographed combat that was “300’s” stock-in-trade, here with the violent storm waters of Aegean substituted for the narrow mountain passes of Thermopylae. Though Snyder has stayed on as writer and producer, “Rise of an Empire” was directed by Noam Murro, a veteran commercials director whose lone previous feature, the 2008 Dennis Quaid dramedy “Smart People,” offered no indication that he could handle a project of this size and scale. But Murro acquits himself more than well, borrowing a lot from Snyder’s playbook while managing to find his own way through the material.

Working with Australian d.p. Simon Duggan (“The Great Gatsby”), Murro re-creates the previous film’s distinctive, duochromatic palate (ochre for day, deep-blue for night), with the actors again performing against mostly digital sets — a look that may not be to the tastes of some analog cinema purists, but which comes as close as any movies have to a cinematic equivalent for the vibrant, active panels of the comicbook artist Frank Miller (whose work inspired both “300” films). Murro favors a somewhat faster, messier look than the first “300,” with a constantly tracking, swooping camera in lieu of Snyder’s more fixed, meticulously composed tableaux, and a minimum of the super slow-motion that gave “300’s” battle scenes their dreamy, ethereal air. And when it comes to blood, of which there will be plenty, Murro’s is darker, thicker and gloppier than Snyder’s bright-red pointillist splays.

“Rise of an Empire” never quite shakes the sense that we’re watching an undercard bout while Leonidas is off fighting for the title, and how could it not? Under Themistokles’ command, these Athenians are an altogether more civilized lot than their neighbors to the south, lacking the suicidal fire in their bellies that drove the Spartans to seek their so-called “beautiful deaths.” These farmers, poets and artists — heck, even Aeschylus himself (Hans Matheson) is among them — go more reluctantly to war, and Themistokles himself cuts a less iconic figure than mighty Leonidas. But when push comes to shove, they rise to the occasion, and the movie’s long, impressively sustained central naval engagement (modeled on the real-life Battle of Artemisium) is as exciting for its large-scale clashes of military might as for its minutiae of Greco-Persian battle strategy.

The images are duly spectacular, as Murro’s camera swoops and dives from every conceivable direction: Greek ships charging the Persian armada like so battering rams; mighty wooden vessels reduced to splinters by the jutting rocks of a narrow strait; nautical and human debris swiftly subsumed by the churning tempest. Yet not a bit of it is as startling as even a fleeting glimpse of Artemisia’s icily intent stare. Elsewhere, Murro and the writers fold in some compelling side business: As in “300,” there’s a focus on a pair of father and son soldiers, Scyllias and Calisto, the latter played with appealing humility by the rising young star Jack O’Connell (fresh off his bracing star turn in the IRA drama “71,” and soon to be back at sea in Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken”).

Three visual effects houses and two vfxsupervisors share credit for the movie’s seamless integration of the real and the virtual. Also making a major contribution: the Dutch electronica composer Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, whose throbbing, muscular score seems to be echoing forth from some distant place in the cosmos.

Reviewed at AMC Empire, New York, February 26, 2014. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 102 MIN.

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300: rise of an empire.

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Sequel with stylized bloody battles, sex, and vengeance.

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300 empire movie review

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 300: Rise of an Empire is the sequel to the violent hit 300 , with the story taking place before, during, and after the events of the original. The violence in the new movie is artificial and fantasy-based, but extremely bloody, with many fight scenes, sliced-up bodies, severed heads and limbs, and huge gushes of spraying blood. There's also a subplot about an abused girl, with sexual abuse strongly suggested. The movie contains a sex scene that plays more like a fight than lovemaking, and female toplessness is shown for several minutes. Another woman is topless in a brief scene, and many chiseled, musclebound men are shown shirtless throughout. The movie clearly contains one use each of "f--k" and "c--k," and a possible second use during a noisy crowd scene.

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Amazing, but not as good as the first.

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Age 21+ graphic nudity, orgies, rape, sex and violence, what's the story.

Set before, during and after the events of 300 (2007), the story turns to Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), who wishes to unite all of Greece in a new democracy. The Spartans oppose his idea, and he must go to war against the powerful Persian navy, led by the vengeful warrior Artemisia ( Eva Green ) and the half-God king Xerxes ( Rodrigo Santoro ). But when the 300 Spartans die in battle, they become martyrs, bringing all the fighting forces together for one cause. Unfortunately Themistocles and Artemisia have some personal history together that complicates things.

Is It Any Good?

The film starts with droning exposition -- explaining a plot that is historically inaccurate anyway -- and adds wooden dialogue and stilted speeches. Then it throws in a boatload of posing, shirtless, chiseled, bearded men that are difficult to tell apart from one another. This is followed by an ongoing array of slow-motion sequences of swords slicing into bodies, limbs, and heads, and huge sprays of fake-looking computer-generated blood. Dust often floats in the foreground to highlight the 3D.

The monotony of the rest of the movie throws into sharp relief one character, the fierce, chilly warrior Artemisia (Eva Green). Green can't do much with this one-dimensional role, but she's by far the best thing in the movie. Zack Snyder adapted Frank Miller s graphic novel, while Noam Murro directed. The final product is brutal and boring, though it will no doubt entertain the many fans of the hit original.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the movie's violence . Does the movie go over-the-top? Is the violence realistic? Entertaining? What is the appeal of movies like this?

Does the movie have a message about working together, or is it more focused on the idea of revenge?

Is the movie's sex scene based more on violence, or on love?

Movie Details

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eva green in 300:rise of an empire

300: Rise of an Empire review – 'frowning gym bunnies with digitally enhanced abs'

H ollywood publicist Bumble Ward was once interviewed about her desire for action king Michael Bay to show his softer side: what she called the "gay Bay". The 300 movies are the nearest thing to the "gay Bay" genre. This is a sort of parallelquel to Zack Snyder 's original 300, which was about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC: this shows what happens around the same time when the Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) is battling the Persian naval forces, commanded by the super-sexy Artemisia. She is played with a good deal of frowning, pouting and strutting by Eva Green, a performer who is becoming so eccentric she may be the Sarah Miles of her generation. Snyder co-writes with Kurt Johnstad; Noam Murro directs and again it is based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller, called Xerxes . (Oddly, the character of Xerxes, played here and in the previous movie by Rodrigo Santoro, doesn't appear in the action much.)

It really is pretty dull, though, with the same moments of campy silliness: the same frowning gym bunnies with the same digitally enhanced abs. Murro has a very tiresome habit, whenever anyone gets stabbed or slashed, of switching suddenly to slo-mo so that the gout of blood can spray languidly across the screen. Lena Headey, playing the Spartan Queen Gorgo, has the film's best line, contemptuously responding to Themistokles's visit: "You've come a long way to stroke your cock, while you watch real men train." Some experiences are presumably worth the effort.

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Ebiri: The Best and Worst Thing About 300: Rise of an Empire Is That Zack Snyder Didn’t Direct It

Portrait of Bilge Ebiri

The best thing about the new 300: Rise of an Empire is that Zack Snyder didn’t direct it. And the worst thing about it is that Zack Snyder didn’t direct it.

Allow me to explain myself. Back in 2006, Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s comic book 300 , a macho reimagining of the battle between a small band of Spartans and the Persian army in Thermopylae, made for a most unlikely hit. Sword and sandal movies weren’t exactly big business, but 300 captured something in the culture: The Iraq War was raging, and the film portrayed the beefy, noble Spartan warriors as brave Western heroes holding off a decadent, grotesque, beyond-Orientalized Persian army. Don’t ask me how we managed to see ourselves in the outnumbered, outgunned resistance and our scattered and desperate enemy in the massive, well-armed invading horde; it was a dark time for everybody.

Did Snyder have any real idea of the loaded politics of his filmmaking, the hateful equation at the heart of 300 ? I’m not sure: He followed 300 up with a literal-minded adaptation of Alan Moore’s subversive comic book Watchmen . You sensed that, like a Chinese tattoo whose translation remains unknown, this stuff didn’t really mean anything to him: It just looked cool.

And bro, it did look cool. For all its hormonally unbalanced political ideas, 300 had a visual purity. Its speed-ramping lateral tracking shots resembled gory, 21st-century variations on Eadweard Muybridge’s studies in motion. Snyder invested this rarefied stylistic conceit with a visceral kick: You admired the movement and cringed at the violence, even as you held the movie itself at arm’s length for its stupidity. It worked so well that everybody and his mother has been aping it ever since. (Recently, the new Russian movie Stalingrad tried to do for WWII what 300 did for the ancient world. It was kind of ridiculous, but Russian audiences apparently ate it up.)

That brings us to 300: Rise of an Empire , which is an altogether more coherent and less politically convoluted film than 300 . This time, Snyder serves as producer and co-writer, and has turned over directing duties to Israeli director Noam Murro. The result, though, is a lot less interesting — its style more anonymous and its macho theatrics more predictable.

The film starts where 300 left off — with a bird’s-eye view of the Spartans and their King Leonidas lying dead in the wake of Thermopylae. But it then shifts focus to what’s happening elsewhere in Greece, as the Athenian General Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) prepares for and then fights a massive Persian naval fleet led by the beautiful but ruthless Artemisia (Eva Green), a Greek slave turned Persian general. (By the way, nobody actually goes to “war” in Rise of an Empire . They all go to something called “wooooooh.”) Along the way, the movie flashes forward and backward, trying to explain the (made-up) reasons for the Persians’ second invasion of Greece, and filling in all-important details about how the Persian king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) got to be an eight-foot, fully shaved golden god. (Answer: He walked into a hermits’ cave, there was a pool … these things happen.)

For all those attempts to lend additional context, Rise of an Empire actually feels more cartoonish than the original film, more eager to indulge in the base pleasures of an action flick. The film has a fantastic ace card in Eva Green’s Artemisia — a magnificently vicious creation, an over-the-top badass who slices and dices her way through battle and then makes out with the severed heads of her vanquished enemies. (As the overripe narration tells us, “Her ferocity was bested only by her beauty, her beauty matched only by her devotion to her king.”) Green, the ingénue of Bertolucci’s The Dreamers and the Bond girl with a brain from Casino Royale , has so much fun with the part that they should do a spinoff movie just about her.

As for the battles themselves, once again they are highly stylized, though in a more humdrum way. Director Murro can speed-ramp like a champ, but gone is the level of abstraction that Snyder brought to the original — and with it, much of the visual interest. As our amped-up, beefed-up, ‘roided-up heroes do their sideways slo-mo somersaults, as the limbs and the heads go flying, as the thick screen blood splatters the lens like barbecue sauce, you may find yourself wondering if that speed-ramping thing can make things go faster.

But then, every once in a while, the movie throws a compelling image at you, and you’re briefly entranced again: a dark horizon filling with ships like plagues of locusts, or a vertigo-inducing 3-D shot of Xerxes surveying his massive army from an impossibly high precipice, or a harrowing vision of Athens being burned to the ground by the invading Persians. Moments like these, and a villain that’s hard to resist, may be enough to make Rise of an Empire a better movie than 300 . But don’t be surprised if, two weeks from now, you forget it ever existed.

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REVIEW: 300: Rise of an Empire : This Great Gutsby is Bloody Good

300 empire movie review

E nough with the PG-13-rated war epics! Thousands, maybe millions die violently in recent action movies set in the past ( The Legend of Hercules , Pompeii ) or the future ( World War Z , Pacific Rim ), yet the combat on screen is sedate, anodyne. To understand the disasters of war, the audience needs to see the thrust of the sword, feel the impact of the bullet — aspects of mortality that are fully available only in films with an R rating. The old masters knew this — Sam Peckinpah with The Wild Bunch , Francis Ford Coppola with Apocalypse Now , Oliver Stone with Platoon , Steven Spielberg with Saving Private Ryan — and their rule should apply today. In any truly vigorous film of men at war, there must, there will be blood.

There’s plenty of blood in 300: Rise of an Empire , the followup to the 2007 smash 300 — both based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller. In depicting the Battle of Salamis between the Greeks and the Persians, director Noam Murro has upped the density level of the blood spilled: from, say, Campbell’s Tomato Soup to Campbell’s Chunky Beef with Tomato and Extra Innards. Soldiers hack away at their foes, and the gore spills in slo-mo across the 3-D IMAX screen like an action painting from Jackson Pollock’s crimson period, or a troll’s projectile vomit, or fistfuls of cranberry sauce hurled across the Thanksgiving table by your angry uncle.

(READ: Lev Grossman’ inside story on Zack Snyder’s 300 )

We’re saying the movie is bloody. In dark, roiling images captured by cinematographer Simon Duggan, who last did The Great Gatsby (this is his Great Gutsby ), the spectacle in Rise of an Empire provides both a graphic lesson on the spoils, indeed the soils, of war and a dizzying aesthetic experience — as when an injured warrior falls from his ship, and the plasma spreads through the water like a school of sea anemones. One can watch in repulsion or wonder; either response is O.K. So is flinching.

Rise of an Empire , which opens exactly seven years after 300 , is neither a sequel nor a prequel to Zack Snyder’s CGI/green-screen epic about Leonides (Gerard Butler) at the Battle of Thermopylae in 479 B.C. Rather, it’s a “meanwhile” movie: it covers events that took place in the rest of Greece slightly before, during and after the Sparta-Persia skirmish. This time the Athenians — trained in pottery and poetry, not war — raise the pan-Hellenic flag. Led by General Themistocles (Aussie actor Sullivan Stapleton, who looks and sounds like Michael Fassbender’s grunt double), they will out-fight and outsmart the gigantic naval force of King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and put an end to Persia’s dream of annexing Greece.

(READ: Corliss’s review of 300 )

You knew all that from ninth-grade history. But maybe your teacher didn’t mention that Artemisia, a Greek girl who became Queen of Persia, commanded the imperial Navy with supreme finesse in swordsmanship and the sneer of a gorgeous Gorgon to wither all enemies. That, anyway, is the take that Miller and Snyder, as producer and cowriter (with Kurt Johnstad) lay on their new movie — and that the always luscious Eva Green brings to ferociously seductive life.

For a legendary woman warrior, Artemisia shows few strategic skills, counting on her edge in naval vessels to defeat the Greeks. She’s also no marksman’s match for Themistocles. One of his arrows kills the Persian ruler Darius (Igal Naor), Xerxes’ father and Artemisia’s husband; yet three of her arrows that land in Themistocles’s body only send him into the water for a cleansing that may make him a god-man. Xerxes went through the same deity bath, but it transformed him only from a dishy human into a gold-plated glam-rock poseur. Despite deploying what may be history’s first suicide bombers, the Persians simply can’t catch a break, from the gods or the scriptwriters.

(READ: Roger Rosenblatt on Themistocles and the Olympic Ideal by subscribing to TIME)

Artemisia’s real strengths are her seductive beauty and her addiction for revenge. As a child, she was captured, abused and discarded by Greek soldiers (Caitlin Carmichael and Jade Chynoweth exude a smoldering resentment as the eight- and 13-year-old Artemisia). Moving in with Darius, she nursed that wound into the mission to conquer all Greece with the Persian Navy she now commands. During one battle, when she decapitates a Greek soldier, she lifts the dead man’s head and, with a tender hatred, kisses it on the mouth.

The irresistible siren is a creature right up Green’s alley. An ivory-skinned beauty with a forehead as high as the Metalunans’ in This Island Earth , the Franco-Swedish actress made an indelibly lubricious impression in her film debut as the teen temptress in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers . She was a middle-Eastern princess in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven , James Bond’s doomed love Vespa Lind in the Casino Royale reboot , a witch who haunts Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and the sorceress Morgan in the Starz series Camelot . As the kohl-eyed leather goddess Artemisia, Green channels cultural history’s most implacable divas, from Anna Magnani to Maria Callas, from Medea to Cruella de Vil. Green’s imposing solemnity allows her to play a camp vamp as if she were a tragic heroine — ideal for a role that mixes hubris and the hots.

(READ: A love note to Eva Green in Perfect Sense )

Green’s presence here hints at the other reason movies get a Restricted rating: so the little ones won’t be frightened by the sight of a beautiful woman with her shirt off. The original 300 was famed for its display of finely sculpted man-meat, a Muscle Beach party of perfect abs, lats and triceps — all male, in what was probably the most homo-erotic war movie ever. Rise of an Empire has similar beefcake on view; the actors pose like statuary in the Ancient Hunk wing of the British Museum. For this film, though, the begetters seem to have decided that, if they’re going to make a bloody R, they may as well make it a sexy R, too. As in heterosexy.

So the movie turns Artemisia and Themistocles into erotic as well as military rivals. Their first face-to-face encounter, in the hold of her flagship, quickly escalates into belly-to-belly, and a few more forceful variations. For these two, sex is violence — the expression of lovemaking as war by other means that has the jolt of intense intimate combat. When it’s over she smirks, “You’re not a god. You’re just a man.”

(READ: What Ever Happened to Movie Sex? )

[SPOILER ALERT:] And in the inevitable final swordplay between the two, Artemisia tartly acknowledges, “You fight harder than you f—.” That remark must steam Themistocles: he drops his cutlass and punches her square in the face. In about 30 seconds, the movie has recapitulated the sad history of the battle of the sexes: brute force over guile. Mortally stabbed by Themistocles, Artemisia pushes her body deeper into the blade, until she is close enough to her killer to kiss him, just as she did earlier to a vanquished Greek. [END SPOILER ALERT.]

For added allure, Lena Headey returns as Leonides’ wife, now widow. His heroic death has etched the Queen’s face with a grave luster, as she debates with Themistocles whether to bequeath her remaining cadre of Spartans to the all-Greek cause. Her eventual “Yes” cues a handsome tilt of ships and men, played out in front of green screens that animate the background action. (The movie was shot in Bulgaria and L.A.) But for all the energetic milling, Rise of an Empire proves superior to its predecessor by making war a game both sexes can play, on nearly equal terms. In comparison, the R-rated 300 seems as innocent as Adam in the Garden before the delicious complication of Eve — or Eva.

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300 empire movie review

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300 empire movie review

300: Rise of an Empire Review

300 empire movie review


In 2007, Zack Snyder’s 300 was a memorable hit at the theaters. Loosely based on events in ancient times and styled in the fashion of Frank Miller’s graphic novel (which the film was more based on), the film was a success (Becoming one of the most successful movies that year) with its” R-rated” adrenaline tale of swords, blood, and a plethora of six packs abs to go around.  Gaining much fame (And money at the box office), an inevitable sequel was assuming by many and was soon granted by the Warner Bros. studio. Years have passed since 300 debuted and finally the long awaited sequel has arrived in the form of 300: Rise of an Empire. With a lengthy gap between the two films and a new director, does this sequel rise above its regarded predecessor or has the momentum gone out for this visual sword and sandals epic?

300 empire movie review

Years before the events of Leonidas, the 300 Spartans, and the Battle of Thermopylae, the Battle of Marathon took place and a skilled Athenian warrior named Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) killed the Persian king Darius; a grievance that Darius’s son Xerxes (Rodrigo Santos) will fuel a destructive revenge against the city-states of Greece. Years later, as Xerxes’s army clash against the Spartans at Thermopylae, Xerxes’s navy general Artemisia (Eva Green), a skilled female warrior who also shares a personally vendetta against the people of Greece, takes to the seas and marshals her Persian troops to decimate the Greek’s navy force. Seeking no help from Sparta, Themistocles musters what men he can to prevent Artemisia’s force from landing on Greek soil as seafaring battles of boats, swords, spears, and men lay ahead of him in the ongoing Greco-Persian War.

300 empire movie review


I actually remember seeing the trailer for the original 300 movie and I actually didn’t think much of it. Thus, I passed on seeing it in theaters and I actually saw it on a plane while I was traveling to Europe on vacation. I couldn’t believe how much I liked it. Sure, it was violent, with plenty of blood and gore, but it was stylish in a way that hadn’t been done in recent Hollywood movies of that day (especially ones that told of ancient Greek mythology). Thus, I bought 300 as soon as it came out on DVD (and then eventually on Blu-Ray) as it became a personal favorite of mine in the action genre. I remember hearing all the talk of a 300 sequel, but nothing ever materialized for quite some time. Of course, I saw the trailer for Rise of an Empire and was completely taken, hoping that it would continue the story from where the original film left off. After seeing the movie, I felt that 300: Rise of an Empire was an interesting movie that carries the same stylish bravado from the first film. It was really good for sequel adventure, but still casted in the shadow of the theatrical predecessor.

When creating a second installment to a movie franchise, most films will choose a sequel (Taking place after the original film), while some might produce a prequel (taking place before the original film). Rise of an Empire is uniquely interesting because it forgoes those two traditional structures (More or less) and presents the film’s narrative as it runs congruently alongside the events of the original 300 film.  Viewers are transported away from Leonidas and the 300 Spartans (the Battle of Thermopylae) to the seas where Themistocles leads the charge against Artemisia in the Battle of Artemisium, which, according to both history and film, are occurring relatively at the same time. It’s a bold move that is rarely seeing in movies, though intriguing as the film is with its storytelling decision, it is it major drawback. Many viewers, including myself, have waited years for this sequel and were expecting to see a continuation of where the first film left off.

Unfortunately, Rise of an Empire sort of ends where the first one ended; leaving viewers pretty much at the same exact spot they were seven years ago. It doesn’t advance the story much further from the first film, but gives more depth and explanation of people, places, and events that took place surrounding the events from 300 (which can be a little disappointing).

300 empire movie review

Zack Snyder switches chairs from directing to producing as relatively unknown director Noam Murro steps up to direct this next 300 chapter. Surprisingly, Murro does a great job in capturing the same look and feel from the previous installment that truly “Wowed” people. Stand-out scenes and sequences of battling of ships on the high seas and clashing of swords of Greek and Persian forces are a visual feast that will surely please any viewer’s hungry for relentless blood and destructive warfare. Rise of an Empire also shakes things up for the action scenery, switching gears to the high sea with seafaring battles being waged throughout the course of the movie.

As it visuals and stylish fighting uphold the same standard from the first 300 film, Rise of an Empire as a good cast; many of which have been call backed to reprise their role from original film. Sullivan Stapleton, most notably for the film Animal Kingdom and Cinemax’s Strike Back TV show, plays the movie’s lead character Themistocles. He has the muscular physique and leadership quality to fill the lead role for this tale and does good job pulling it off, but lacks that special something that actor Gerard Butler brought to the lead character of Leonidas from the first one. In truth, Stapleton is slightly upstaged by the film’s lead villain Artemisia played by Eva Green. Her performance is worth the price of admission alone as Green’s character is deliciously beautiful, but ruthlessly cunning and manipulative; a tried and true villain that many, including myself, love to watch on-screen.

Returning to this theatrical depiction of the Greco-Persian War is Rodrigo Santoro as omnipotent god-king Xerxes. His origin of how he transforms himself into his godly form is depicted in the movie’s beginning and is a quite interesting piece to reveal. He appears in the movie in several scenes; letting Artemisia her own devices and attends to matter of the 300 Spartans soldiers at the Hot Gates. Lena Heady also returns as the role of Queen Gorgo of Sparta. Again, like Xerxes, her appearances are briefly sprinkled throughout the film as she also lends her voice to the film’s narration for exposition. Also returning are David Wenham as the Spartan Dilos, Andrew Pleavin as the Greek Daxos, and Andrew Tiernan as the grotesquely misshapen Ephialtes. Given the fact that all these people came back to portray their character from 300 , it’s sad that Gerard Butler didn’t return to reprise his role as Leonidas of Sparta; once scene in particular presented itself where Butler could’ve come back and it would’ve great to see him again in that character.

300 empire movie review


Swords, sandals, and the raging sea clash in 300: Rise of an Empire . The long awaited sequel doesn’t really advance the story forward, but rather side-steps viewers with a tale that harps upon the first entry a little too much. However, once you accept that fact (as I did), 300: Rise of an Empire is a satisfying and entertaining movie that carries the same epic bravado and visual spectacle of which made the first 300 movie famous and beloved by many. Personally, I liked it, perhaps a little more than the average moviegoer. Here is to hoping that we’ll see a 300-esque Battle of Platea film on the big screen sometime in the near future, continuing this cinematic tale of the Greco-Persian War.

4.1 Out of 5 (Recommended)

Released on: march 7th, 2014, reviewed on: march 7th, 2014.

300: Rise of an Empire  is rated R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language

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