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Flash Movie Review: 300: Rise of an Empire

When I began posting my movie reviews I made a commitment to write one a day for an entire year. It was not always easy; I had to decline social engagements, besides dealing with the electronic gremlins that would mess up my postings from time to time. There were days where my fingers had to do double time to get the review done before the strike of midnight; not that I would turn into a pumpkin, just wouldn’t be able to keep my word. However, I carried out my promise to myself and did it. Some of my friends thought I was crazy with my rigid dedication but I have always had that trait. It is similar to my not eating 5 hours before I go to bed as a means of maintaining my weight. Right from the beginning of this action drama, I could identify with the actors’ dedication in achieving their impressive chiseled physiques besides the characters’ determination in fighting to the death to save their land. I cannot call this a sequel since the writers were clever to create a story that paralleled the story from the previous movie, 300. Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom, Gangster Squad) played Greek General Themistokles. With the Persian King Xerxes, played by Rodrigo Santoro (What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I Love You Phillip Morris), moving forward in his conquest for all of Greece; Themistokles would have to take his battle to the sea against the king’s massive navy led by skilled commander Artemisia, played by Eva Green (Dark Shadows, Casino Royale). It would take cunning, strategy and most of all courage to try and defeat the Persian forces that outnumbered Themistokles’ fighters. This movie played out like a dramatic opera; there were a multitude of heroic speeches, gruesome fights and passionate pleas. When I said gruesome I meant it because there was so much blood being spilled throughout the entire film that the characters even mentioned they would turn the ocean into a sea of red. It would be hard to talk about the acting since the whole movie had a graphic novel, computer game look to it; the characters were more cartoonish to me. I thought Eva was impressive with her fighting skills, finding it a nice twist to have a female badass. Playing the Spartan Queen Gorgo, I wished Lena Headey (The Purge, Game of Thrones-TV) had more screen time since her character had more dimension to me. This bloody war film started to become repetitive with its cycle of speeches and battles. Do not consider this movie as a history lesson; it was just fun to watch on the big screen. Also, no one could fault the actors for their dedication in contributing to this movie’s sharp look. There were multiple scenes with blood and violence throughout the film.

 

2 1/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Before Midnight

Saying I am angry does not mean I do not love you. For years I was not the best person to have an intelligent discussion with over a disagreement. The only examples of verbal fights I saw were ones where people threw derogatory words at each other. Not only did it take a lot of growing up on my part; but it took seeing the sad face of someone I loved being hurt, before I fully understood how to have an adult conversation about my feelings. Replacing the word “you” with “I’ made a huge difference right from the start. I learned how to talk about my feelings, along with clarifying things being said to me by saying, “What I heard you say…”. One of the most important lessons I learned was to address any issues as soon as possible. Since my pet peeve was to have someone bring up something that happened in the past that caused them distress, I did not want to do the same to them. I guess this is what they call acting like an adult. For all you adults out there, I can honestly say the art of conversation lived in this beautiful, touching film. I barely recall the previous two movies in this series, so my review will be solely on the merits of this film. Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Daybreakers) and Julie Delpy (Broke Flowers, 2 Days in Paris) played settled couple Jesse and Celine. Away from their daily routine, vacationing in Greece with their young twin girls, the couple began to examine their life together and question what they wanted for their future. I cannot tell you how long it has been since I have seen characters having real, convincing mature conversations in a film. Part of the brilliance in watching this had to go to the director/writer Richard Linklater (Bernie, Me and Orson Welles). In a world where everything has to be quick and fast, the long takes in this movie allowed an authentic progression of thoughts and feelings to be on display. Ethan and Julie deserve accolades for their amazing acting and the sharing of the writing credits with Richard. This was a genuine story about a couple looking at choices made and figuring out what was important to each of them. An absolute joy to watch, this romantic film deserves an Oscar nomination or two.

 

3 3/4 stars

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