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FILM FANS: Eva Green's character Artemisia stands out in '300: Rise of an Empire'

EDITOR’S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: “300: Rise of an Empire.” Want to be a Film Fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

3 out of 4 stars

With all of the sequels and prequels coming out of Hollywood these days, this film has a clever approach that I’ll call an additional chapter, or perhaps “and now, for the rest of the story.”

Building on the foundation of Zack Snyder’s “300,” this is the story of the battle between Greece and the Persian Empire, taken from Frank Miller’s novel “Xerxes,” at a time when Persia consisted of the land from Egypt, northern Greece, Iran and beyond. In “300,” we watched the story of the Greek Spartans, bravely fighting against impossible odds, and a huge army led by Xerxes, emperor and self-proclaimed god of Persia. “Rise of an Empire” is the story of what was happening at the same time in the Aegean Sea where Greek warrior Themistocles, played by Sullivan Stapleton, was leading the Greek navy against Artemisia (Eva Green), who was the first and only woman to ever command the Persian navy, and her armada.

There is enough spattered blood, hacking and slashing to make both Sam Peckinpaw and Quentin Tarantino happy. They make use of the same technique as in the original to slow-mo the battle scenes to the max in order to exaggerate the drama of the violence of the battles. Extremely gory but also quite effective.

It is Eva Green, however, as Artemisia that steals the show as the vengeful, vicious and sinister commander that can hold her own in fierce battle with the biggest and best of the Greek warriors, and still be as gorgeous as ever.

Lots and lots and lots of bloody battles, if that’s your thing, but the story has symmetry, heroes to cheer for and lots of villains to hate. The movie, of course, does have the obligatory open ending that strongly suggests a part three.

— Steve Kalberg, Lawrenceville

2 ½ out of 4 stars

If you liked the first “300” movie, then you will like the second one, “Rise of an Empire.” There’s not that much difference between the two movies. It’s a war movie with a lot of ripped men with their shirts off and a whole lot of blood. The main character in this film is played by Sullivan Stapleton, who is not very convincing as an actor. The one thing that stood out the most in this film was Eva Green’s character, who is the villain. Her character’s back story was very interesting. As the story goes on, you understand why she is as evil as she is because of what she went through. The only downside to her character was she did the cliché evil villain thing, which was killing members of her own army. Overall, “Rise of an Empire” is not as good as the first one, but it’s still enjoyable to watch.

— Brittany Wygladalski, Sugar Hill

1 1/2 out of 4 stars

Boy, I really took one for the team when I offered to review “300: Rise of an Empire.”

Serving as both a prequel and a sequel to 2006’s “300,” “Rise of an Empire” deals mostly with the naval engagements between the Persian and Greek forces and the Battle of Salamis. The protagonist this time is the Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), who must find a way to win against the larger, more powerful ships under Xerxes and his commander, Artemisia (Eva Green). At first, Themistocles gains the upper hand through use of cunning tactics and deception, but soon the superior numbers and brutality of the Persians puts the Greeks to full retreat, where they must fight not only for their lives, but for the existence of Greece itself.

This flick is chock full of six-pack abs, blusterous speeches, slow-motion blood spatter and guts flying everywhere. The action scenes are quite intense and feature a pretty graphic sex scene. It’s definitely not for the squeamish. Eva Green’s over-the-top performance as Artemisia puts to shame Kiefer Sutherland’s hambone acting in “Pompeii.” In my book, “Rise of an Empire” falls about $2.50 short of “300.”

— Tim Weekley, Suwanee