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300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (2014)
This 100-minute 24-hour fitness commercial was mildly entertaining, but each frame seemed like a desperate grasp to relive the glory days of the Zack Snyder/Frank Miller story of the 300 Spartans. Say what you will about Snyder, but 300 had as much of an impact on moviemaking as the Wachowskis’ The Matrix's had on making onscreen shenanigans look extra dramatic. Rise of an Empire's story is a bit strange, being part prequel part sequel and starting just prior to the events in Thermopylae and concluding shortly after the last of King Leonidas' Spartans fell. Centered on Athenian general Themistocles (played by Sullivan Stapleton with a little less gusto than Gerard Butler did his über macho Leonidas), Rise of an Empire tells the story of the events that led to the Battle of Thermopylae, and how the clash between the Greeks and the Persians ultimately came to a head. Themistocles is an interesting character; pragmatic to a fault, but a fierce warrior when needed. Unfortunately he wasn’t nearly as inspiring or menacing or charismatic as Butler’s fearsome Leonidas, and comparisons were inevitable when this project was announced.
The one interesting element of the film was the character of Artemisia (played by the always magnetic Eva Green), bloodthirsty leader of the Pesian navy. Having suffered at the hands of the Greeks, Artemisia vows to exact vengeance upon them, and her wrath is swift and relentless. A skilled swordsman and a cunning strategist, Artemisia is a formidable opponent for the equally shrewd Themistocles. Eva Green embodied the role with an  intensity that is characteristic of the roles she usually plays. Yet despite how inherently interesting her character already was, she was still forced to engage in a ridiculous sex scene that was meant to show off her insatiable appetites, a redundant thing to highlight considering Green was sexy enough without needing to take her clothes off. The scene served no purpose and seemed only like a box that director Noam Murro thought he should check off in his foray into this universe. 300: Rise of an Empire had an opportunity to show off a unique character in Artemisia, and it caved to the dumb expectation that strong female characters cannot exist without being sexually objectified. 
Despite this frustrating development, it was a treat to see Lena Headey and Eva Green dominate the screen with their portrayals of unrelenting mavens. One was an expert in battle, and the other a ruler with an iron fist. Both actresses were scene stealers, and Sullivan Stapleton and his band of Greek warriors seemed no more than toy soldiers at play. While the fight scenes were well-choreographed and Stapleton put on a passable performance as the hero of this piece, 300: Rise of an Empire is but a shadow of 300's glory. It was largely uneventful and as a whole mediocre; it may not have been worthy of association to the 2006 film. Snyder's 300 made viewers want to go thump their chests and swing from the trees in its soaring epicness. Murro’s Rise of an Empire inspires little more than a yawn and occasional flutter of an eyelid. Unless you’re a fan of man boobs pectorals on a 20-foot screen, save yourself a trip to the theater and rent this one instead.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (2014)

This 100-minute 24-hour fitness commercial was mildly entertaining, but each frame seemed like a desperate grasp to relive the glory days of the Zack Snyder/Frank Miller story of the 300 Spartans. Say what you will about Snyder, but 300 had as much of an impact on moviemaking as the Wachowskis’ The Matrix's had on making onscreen shenanigans look extra dramatic. Rise of an Empire's story is a bit strange, being part prequel part sequel and starting just prior to the events in Thermopylae and concluding shortly after the last of King Leonidas' Spartans fell. Centered on Athenian general Themistocles (played by Sullivan Stapleton with a little less gusto than Gerard Butler did his über macho Leonidas), Rise of an Empire tells the story of the events that led to the Battle of Thermopylae, and how the clash between the Greeks and the Persians ultimately came to a head. Themistocles is an interesting character; pragmatic to a fault, but a fierce warrior when needed. Unfortunately he wasn’t nearly as inspiring or menacing or charismatic as Butler’s fearsome Leonidas, and comparisons were inevitable when this project was announced.

The one interesting element of the film was the character of Artemisia (played by the always magnetic Eva Green), bloodthirsty leader of the Pesian navy. Having suffered at the hands of the Greeks, Artemisia vows to exact vengeance upon them, and her wrath is swift and relentless. A skilled swordsman and a cunning strategist, Artemisia is a formidable opponent for the equally shrewd Themistocles. Eva Green embodied the role with an  intensity that is characteristic of the roles she usually plays. Yet despite how inherently interesting her character already was, she was still forced to engage in a ridiculous sex scene that was meant to show off her insatiable appetites, a redundant thing to highlight considering Green was sexy enough without needing to take her clothes off. The scene served no purpose and seemed only like a box that director Noam Murro thought he should check off in his foray into this universe. 300: Rise of an Empire had an opportunity to show off a unique character in Artemisia, and it caved to the dumb expectation that strong female characters cannot exist without being sexually objectified. 

Despite this frustrating development, it was a treat to see Lena Headey and Eva Green dominate the screen with their portrayals of unrelenting mavens. One was an expert in battle, and the other a ruler with an iron fist. Both actresses were scene stealers, and Sullivan Stapleton and his band of Greek warriors seemed no more than toy soldiers at play. While the fight scenes were well-choreographed and Stapleton put on a passable performance as the hero of this piece, 300: Rise of an Empire is but a shadow of 300's glory. It was largely uneventful and as a whole mediocre; it may not have been worthy of association to the 2006 film. Snyder's 300 made viewers want to go thump their chests and swing from the trees in its soaring epicness. Murro’s Rise of an Empire inspires little more than a yawn and occasional flutter of an eyelid. Unless you’re a fan of man boobs pectorals on a 20-foot screen, save yourself a trip to the theater and rent this one instead.

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller return to Sin City with A Dame to Kill For, the second installment in the hardboiled graphic novel series. Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke and Rosario Dawson are just a few of the returning characters, joined by new faces that include Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Ray Liotta and Josh Brolin. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For storms into US theaters August 22, 2014.

PENNY DREADFUL FULL TRAILER

I’ve posted a bit about Showtime’s new sinister series Penny Dreadful, produced by American Beauty's Sam Mendes and created by Skyfall writer John Logan. Starring Eva Green, Josh Hartnett and Timothy Dalton, it involves iconic characters from all over horror literature (Frankenstein’s monster, Dorian Gray, etc). Here at last is the full trailer, which shows a little bit more of the scary things that go bump in the night in this reimagined dark universe. Penny Dreadful premieres on May 11.

NEW PENNY DREADFUL TEASER: A PLACE IN THE SHADOWS

Last month Showtime released a teaser for their upcoming horror series Penny Dreadful, starring Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton and Billie Piper. While that was enough to pique our interests, this new video is guaranteed to whet our appetites. The teaser shows more than the first ones does and gives viewers an idea of what the vibe of the series is going to be. The show is set in Victorian England and features some of the literary world’s most iconic horror characters from Dracula to Dorian Gray. Penny Dreadful will haunt your TV screens starting May 2014. 

PENNY DREADFUL

Showtime’s answer to FX’s American Horror Story and NBC’s Grimm comes in the form of an Eva Green-led series set in Victorian England, featuring some of the literary world’s most iconic horror characters from Dracula to Dorian Gray. The show will also star Timothy Dalton, Josh Hartnett, Billie Piper, Skyfall's Rory Kinnear and Attack the Block's Harry Treadaway. Penny Dreadful is slated to grace our screens in Spring 2014.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

The sequel to Zack Snyder’s wildly successful 300 takes place after the Spartan last stand at Thermopylae, and sees the return of Rodrigo Santoro’s Persian emperor Xerxes I along with an appearance by Lena Headey’s now widowed Queen Gorgo. In this installment, the Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) wages war against the Persians, only he finds a formidable foe to contend with in Eva Green’s Artemisia, who commands the Persians’ powerful navy. Judging by the trailer, the sequel looks to bring much of the same elements found in Snyder’s original, but the addition of the sea battles separates this epic from its predecessor. Produced by Snyder himself and directed by Noam Murro, 300: Rise of an Empire hits theaters in March 2014.  

CRACKS (2009)
Eva Green, Juno Temple and María Valverde star in Cracks, an engrossing coming-of-age drama set in a British boarding school for girls in the 1930s. The school seems to be somewhat of a depository for abandoned girls whose parents are either dead or too busy gallivanting around the world to raise them. Resigned to their new home, the girls develop close ties with each other, even going so far as to consider one of their teachers, Miss G (played by Green), sort of a surrogate mother. But Miss G has no intention of being looked upon as an authority figure. Rather, she wants to be friends with the girls. When well-traveled Spanish ingénue Fiamma (Valverde) transfers to the school, she unwittingly causes waves between the girls and their untouchable Miss G, who becomes instantly fixated on the exotic newcomer. Cracks is riveting and atmospheric, with some great performances from Juno Temple and Eva Green. I was surprised at the dark tone of the film, which I had not expected at all. The story was really interesting and one that I don’t believe has been told before in such sweeping fashion. 
The film has a brooding ambiance that mirrors the isolation the girls feel as they are trapped in the school. Although they are free to roam about the lush surrounding countryside and participate in excursions amid the picturesque lakes and forests, audiences can sense a cold, wistful feeling of being in a bubble, completely removed from the world. I loved the way the drama of the period married really well with the complicated material. I also thought that there was just enough mystery surrounding the events that occur in the film that sated the audience’s interest without necessarily spelling everything out. It was also a pleasure to see an all-female cast, all of whom performed admirably.


Eva Green, who channeled her inner master manipulator in Starz’s short-lived Camelot, is no stranger to dark and edgy roles. Cracks is no exception. Green is simply captivating as the miserable but magnetic instructor who captures the girls’ attentions and imaginations with her wild stories of adventures in far-off lands and her random outbursts of excitement. Unlike the stuffy instructors at the school, Green’s Miss G dresses in eye-catching outfits and makes an effort to integrate herself as a friend rather than a teacher. I loved her character and the way she was written. The film seduces audiences through Miss G’s charms the same way she lures the girls into her clutches. The story was also extremely well-paced, which made the shocking revelation all the more jarring. 
Cracks is a really fascinating film that is deeply unsettling once you’ve finished watching it. Juno Temple impressed in a role that required a lot of nuance and fire, both attributes that the young actress seemed to master quite effortlessly. Eva Green was, as always, enigmatic and alluring, and I love that she chooses roles that are bold and daring. There is plenty to absorb in this film and it certainly leaves a strong impression even after the credits have rolled. 

CRACKS (2009)

Eva Green, Juno Temple and María Valverde star in Cracks, an engrossing coming-of-age drama set in a British boarding school for girls in the 1930s. The school seems to be somewhat of a depository for abandoned girls whose parents are either dead or too busy gallivanting around the world to raise them. Resigned to their new home, the girls develop close ties with each other, even going so far as to consider one of their teachers, Miss G (played by Green), sort of a surrogate mother. But Miss G has no intention of being looked upon as an authority figure. Rather, she wants to be friends with the girls. When well-traveled Spanish ingénue Fiamma (Valverde) transfers to the school, she unwittingly causes waves between the girls and their untouchable Miss G, who becomes instantly fixated on the exotic newcomer. Cracks is riveting and atmospheric, with some great performances from Juno Temple and Eva Green. I was surprised at the dark tone of the film, which I had not expected at all. The story was really interesting and one that I don’t believe has been told before in such sweeping fashion. 

The film has a brooding ambiance that mirrors the isolation the girls feel as they are trapped in the school. Although they are free to roam about the lush surrounding countryside and participate in excursions amid the picturesque lakes and forests, audiences can sense a cold, wistful feeling of being in a bubble, completely removed from the world. I loved the way the drama of the period married really well with the complicated material. I also thought that there was just enough mystery surrounding the events that occur in the film that sated the audience’s interest without necessarily spelling everything out. It was also a pleasure to see an all-female cast, all of whom performed admirably.

Eva Green, who channeled her inner master manipulator in Starz’s short-lived Camelot, is no stranger to dark and edgy roles. Cracks is no exception. Green is simply captivating as the miserable but magnetic instructor who captures the girls’ attentions and imaginations with her wild stories of adventures in far-off lands and her random outbursts of excitement. Unlike the stuffy instructors at the school, Green’s Miss G dresses in eye-catching outfits and makes an effort to integrate herself as a friend rather than a teacher. I loved her character and the way she was written. The film seduces audiences through Miss G’s charms the same way she lures the girls into her clutches. The story was also extremely well-paced, which made the shocking revelation all the more jarring. 

Cracks is a really fascinating film that is deeply unsettling once you’ve finished watching it. Juno Temple impressed in a role that required a lot of nuance and fire, both attributes that the young actress seemed to master quite effortlessly. Eva Green was, as always, enigmatic and alluring, and I love that she chooses roles that are bold and daring. There is plenty to absorb in this film and it certainly leaves a strong impression even after the credits have rolled.