300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
Director: Noam Murro.
Starring: Sullivan Stapleton (Themistocles), Eva Green (Artemisia), Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo), Hans Matheson (Aeskylos), Callan Mulvey (Scyllias), David Wenham (Dilios), Rodrigo Santoro (Xerxes), Jack O'Connell (Calisto), Andrew Tiernan (Ephialtes), Igal Naor (King Darius), Andrew Pleavin (Daxos), Peter Mensah (Persian Emissary), Ben Turner (General Artaphernes), Ashraf Barhom (General Bandari), Christopher Sciueref (General Kashani), Steven Cree (Decapitated Greek marine), Caitlin Carmichael (8 Year Old Artemisia), Jade Chynoweth (13 Year Old Artemisia), Kevin Fry (Lascivious Greek), David Sterne (Old Statesman), Clive Sawyer (Senator), Christopher Boyer (Senator), Fred Ochs (Senator), Price Carson (Senator), John Michael Herndon (Senator), David Pevsner (Senator), Dimo Alexiev (Rope Puller), Peter Ferdinando (Greek Ambassador).
Greek battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis
Queen Gorgo speaks to her troops before battle. To motivate them, she tells them of the history of the Greek struggles against the Persians
Flashback. 490 BC. Marathon. the Persian King Darius comes to Greece. The Athenians attack the Persians as they land on Greek soil. Themistocles is the architect of this strategy. King Darius watches Themistocles from a Persian ship. Themistocles grabs up a bow and arrow and fires the arrow into the chest of King Darius, wounding him. As Darius falls, his son Xerxes grabs his father and sets him down.
Darius lies dying. He turns to his most ferocious naval commander Artemisia. She comes to see the King. Darius warns his son to not fight the Greeks because only the gods can defeat the Greeks. Artemisia snatches the arrow from Darius' chest and he dies immediately. Xerxes goes into mourning for seven days. On the eighth day Artemisia tells him that his father's words were a challenge to Xerxes, not a warning. She says the Xerxes will become a god-king.
Xerxes goes through a profound change are emerges as a god. Artemisia now kills all of Xerxes' allies, making her his main ally. Xerxes goes before his people and says that for the sake of vengeance there will be war.
Themistocles wants to fight Xerxes, but many says that a truce must be worked out with the Persians. Themistocles says that Xerxes is a wolf at the door of the Greeks. He says that they must send every ship they have to the northern coast of Euboea. Meanwhile, he will seek the help of the Spartans.
In Sparta Themistocles learns that the Persians have already offered terms to King Leonidas. Queen Gorgo comes to speak with Themistocles. She says they rejected the Persians' offer. 300 Spartans head for Thermopylae.
On board ship, Artemisia cuts off the head of a Greek prisoner. She then sniffs out a Greek spy. The Greek gets away by diving into the sea. The spy is soon talking with Themistocles about Artemisia. She is Greek by birth but the hoplites raped and murdered her family and she vowed that one day she would return to Greece to avenge her family. Placed into slavery, she was saved from death by a Persian emissary. It was he who taught her to be an expert swords-woman. Her skills brought her to the attention of the Persian King and soon she became a trusted ally of the king.
Themistocles is going to be the commander of the Greek fleet. They only have 50 small ships while the Persians are said to have a thousand large ships. He says they will meet the Persian ships on the open sea. They sail out to meet the Persian ships. The sea is very rough today with huge waves. Themistocles decides to attack the Persian middle. The Greek ships ram the Persian ships and send them to the bottom of the sea. Artemisia decides to let the Greeks have this day. They will attack again in the morning.
Artemisia throws the sub-commander of the failed attack into heavy irons and then he's thrown into the sea to drown. 75 ships were lost and 30 were damaged beyond repair. Another 20 need a few weeks' work in a safe harbor. She tells the men before her that she's disappointed in her men. General Kanshani will lead tomorrow's attack.
The next day the Greek ship's suddenly retreat back into the fog. The Persian ships chases after them into the fog. But soon the Persian ships are ramming into the rocks and sinking. The ships create a blockage among the rocks and the other ships behind them slam into them. The Greek marines jump onto the ships now and start killing the Persian men.
The Greek spy escapee is right in the middle of the fight and he kills Persian after Persian. He suddenly meets up with his son during the battle, who is also performing exceptionally well in killing the enemy. Themistocles kills Gen. Kanshani.
A Persian ship comes in. It picks up Themistocles to take him to see Artemisia. She tells Themistocles that she is offering him a chance to join with the Persians. Artemisia keeps flirting with him, until he gives in and kisses her hard on the lips. They start having sex. (some nudity) They have rough sex and at it's height she tells Themistocles to join her. He says no, so she throws him off the table. She then grabs a sword and puts it to his throat. Artemisia says he won't die tonight. She calls for her guards and tells them to throw the filthy Greek off her ship.
The next day in battle the Persians released thick crude oil onto the waters. Themistocles gives the order for his ships to retreat. Artemisia sends her personal guard swimming towards Themistocles' ship. She sees the Greek spy of the ship and fires three arrows into him. His son helps his father to lay on the ship deck. He tells his son to fight on. Now a giant of a Persian throws heated metal amidst the crude oil lighting it on fire. The Greeks throw spears at the big man and hit him. He drops the heated metal and the oil on the ship starts on fire. The ship will be destroyed. But the rest of the oil on the ocean is set on fire and endangers the Greek ships.
One of the Persian gets onto the flag ship of the fleet. Artemisia fires an arrow into the Persian's back pack and the pack explodes. Themistocles wakes up in the water. But this is part of his dream. He is awakened on the shore by a marine. The Greek spy dies of his three arrow wounds.
The Persian army now have defeated the 300 Spartans. They can march on Athens and Sparta. The news reaches Themistocles who hears that the Spartans were betrayed by a humpback and all 300 have been slaughtered. He comments: "Now Greece has her martyrs." He tells Daxos to go throughout Greece telling the story of the 300 martyrs. Sparta's sacrifice will unite the Greeks. Then Themistocles gives the order to take the men and ships back to the safety of Salamis. He himself will take the message to Athens.
Back in Athens, Themistocles see the hunchback. The traitor tells the Greeks that the Persian god-king will burn Athens to the ground.
Now Themistocles goes to Sparta to see Queen Gorgo. After saying his condolences to the Queen, he asks her to give him the Spartan navy. She says Sparta has already given enough for Themistocles' dream of a united Greece.
Athens is burned to the ground. The hunchback now tells the god-king that the Athenian fleet now lies helpless in the Bay of Salamis. Artemisia asks who commands the fleet now? The answers is Themistocles. Artemisia says Themistocles is dead, but the hunchback says that he personally talked to Themistocles. Artemisia gives the order for the Persian fleet to sail to Salamis. The god-king says it would be wise to first ensure that the Greeks are not setting a trap for the Persian fleet at Salamis. Artemisia asks how does Xerxes dare to give her advise on war? Xerxes slaps Artemisia to the ground. She gets up and says she will attack the Greek fleet with her entire navy.
Themistocles watches the red glow of Athens burning at night. He tells his men that he had prayed for the Spartans to send men to him, but not have come. The men start complaining that all this is the fault of Themistocles. The commander of the navy says the men are right. So if any of them want to leave and desert not only him, but their country, they are free to go now. No one leaves.
The Greek fleet goes to meet the Persian fleet. Themistocles tells his friend Aeskylos that without Artemisia the Persian navy is nothing. He will focus on taking her out.
Themistocles' boat is rammed by a Persian boat, but the Greek ship does not flounder. The Greek and Persian ships in the vanguard are up against each other. Artemisia says she is not going to be just a witness. She pulls out her two swords and runs onto a Greek with her warriors behind her. She creates a torrent of blood. Themistocles gets on a horse and jumps from boat to boat killing Artemisia's elite guard. He kills all the guards near Artemisia and now the two face each other. The swordfight. Themistocles socks her with a left cross to her face. She fights even harder now. She gets one of her blades up to the throat of Themistocles, but Themistocles has his blade up against her throat too.
Back to the present. Queen Gorgo finishes up her speech to her crew as she leads her Spartan fleet against the Persians. She is ready for battle just as much as Artemisia is.
Themistocles gets the upper hand on Artemisia. He tells her: "You are being surrounded. All of Greece has united against you. Delphi, Thebes, Olympia, Arcadia and Sparta." He wants to spare Artemisia and tells her to surrender to him. She will be spared. Artemisia is not interested in surrender, and she grabs a sword and starts fighting Themistocles again. This time, however, Themistocles sends his words into her mid-section. Artemisia drops to her knees.
And now the Spartans arrive as they bash into the Persian ships. Their Queen leads them into battle. Now Artemisia collapses to the deck. Artemisia reaches Themistocles and they start fighting the Persians together.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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