Empire (TV Mini-Series 2005– ) Poster

(2005– )

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5/10
Alas Poor History
bmckee29 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There are so many historical errors and niggling little details points that are simply wrong in "Empire" that anyone with even a slight knowledge of the history of the period will be left shaking their heads in amazement. And while those without a grounding in the history might think they're getting an accurate view of the period, the fact is that the real story would probably have been even better than the fiction. This is unfortunate, since there are some good performances notably from Colm Feore as Julius Caesar and Michael Byrne as Cicero.

Far from being a pampered rich kid, sheltered from the realities of Roman politics depicted in the miniseries, at 19 the real Octavius was a veteran of a battle in Spain where his ability in command of the 10th Legion led to victory in the Battle of Munda. He was Caesar's great nephew (grandson of Caesar's eldest sister)as well as his adoptive son - Roman adoption was a complex affair to say the least - and wasn't even in Rome at the time of the assassination. Instead he was in what is now Albania preparing for the coming campaign in Parthia (now Syria) that Caesar was intending to lead. On learning of his adoptive father's death he returned to Italy and gained the support of Caesar's veteran troops by virtue of his name and status which put him on an equal footing with Mark Anthony. But of course telling this story wouldn't allow us to sympathize with Octavian nearly as much as the concocted version that this miniseries is serving up. It's a pity really.
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3/10
Roman-style soap opera
raymondjcolombaro29 June 2005
After all the teasers, I watched the pilot & found it typically Disneyfied. It takes historical characters of late first century BCE and early 1st century CE and weaves a majestic tapestry of fabrication. It then hangs it on a few pegs of historical truth and expects you to swallow the whole story as fact, when it's mostly fiction. Some of this lack of fidelity to history has been pointed out by others already, so I shall not belabor the point. Having the adequate & comely Santiago Cabrera play Octavian or Octavianus, NOT Octavius! is a stretch. The future first emperor of Rome was 18 not 28 in 44 BCE. Given the state of cultural/historical illiteracy today, I am not surprised by 'Empire.' Afterall, it's Disney/ABC and not the History channel or PBS.
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6/10
Good drama but bad history
vsix128 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Beware -- SPOILERS !!! Bear in mind that this is being written after the first night's showing. But what I've seen doesn't appear too bad. The two-hour premier of the six-hour mini-series has my interest peaked, so I'll continue watching. However, one should remember that this is Hollywood, not history.

With a largely unknown cast (at least to most American viewers), "Empire" sets out to chronicle the early days of the Roman Empire, following the death of Caesar. The events are seen through the eyes of the fictional gladiator/slave/super-swordsman Tyrannus (played by Jonathan Cake). After being freed by Caesar, Tyrannus agrees to act as his bodyguard. However, with the kidnapping of his son (by what appeared to be either an unrelated incident or another opportunity to show his expert swordsmanship), Tyrannus was not at the Senate on the Ides of March to stop the brutal murder of Caesar. Reaching the Senate at the end, Tyrannus stands over the body of his friend while Caesar breathes his last words: protect Octavius, his heir. And protect him, he does. The remainder of the story involves the civil war that erupted between Marc Antony and the young Octavius.

Missing from the story of the death of Caesar are several key persons that were active in Rome at the time of Caesar's death, namely Cleopatra, Caesar's lover, and Calpurnia, Caesar's wife. The focus shifts from these two women to Caesar's sister and a fictional Vestal virgin named Camane.

It is in the technical areas that the mini-series is the strongest. The backdrops, costumes, and sets are all lavish. The crowd scenes are filled with people and the limited use of CGI is refreshing.

It is the fictional gladiator that makes the story weak. In studying the history of the period, there was enough drama with the historical characters to propel the story. I have to wonder if the writers knew much about the history, otherwise, why did they feel the need to have a fictional person push the story along. And while the acting is good overall, the actions and choices made by the characters do not coincide (or make sense) with their historical motivations.

The score also seems overpowering at times. This usually happens when the dialogue is predictable, unfortunately, a pretty common event. For example, in the scene where Caesar grants Tyrannus his freedom, Tyrannus says, "I don't know what to say." Caesar's response is "Say yes." So, for a creative look at the rise of Octavius as the first emperor of Rome, take a look. For a history lesson, read a book.
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2/10
Junk
steven-22228 July 2005
Imagine, 2000 years from now, someone decides to tell the story of George Bush. Sure, there are historical records about the time, but why not just make things up as you go along, to "improve" the story? So...there was once an elected king of America, Bush I, whose son wanted to succeed him; but Bush II was challenged by the evil Prince Gore. The people voted and chose Gore, but the 12 Lords of Justice decided the match should be decided by a duel, in which Bush II killed Gore. Hooray! Then America was attacked by a missile fired by King Saddam of Arabia. Bush II, already famous as a fighter pilot, led a jet attack on Saddam, and brought back his head on a stick, which was mounted atop the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the capitol, New York. And so on...

And that's about how seriously the makers of EMPIRE take one of the most crucial, and well-documented, episodes in all of history, the aftermath of the assassination of Julius Caesar and the beginnings of the Roman Empire. Why bother with the incredibly fascinating reality of the people and their times, when we can just make up anything we want? It's all just fodder for the Hollywood TV grist mill, which provides wish-fulfillment fantasies for viewers whom the filmmakers hold beneath contempt. Sad.

Beyond the ludicrous flights of fancy and boneheaded mistakes, some of the glitches are simply careless bloopers, as when the black general (yes, they made him up, too) refers to the "Serbian Walls" that encircle Rome. They're actually called the Servian Walls, and have been for about 2500 years, but who gives a frack?

But...I'll give EMPIRE 1 star for eye-candy, especially Jonathan (can I have it and eat it, too?) Cake. And another star for some not-bad casting. (Fiona Shaw as Fulvia: "I always leave before the orgy.") The rest is all junk.

Viewers interested in a more serious treatment of the same events might want to watch the Euro mini-series AUGUSTUS (available on DVD), starring Peter O'Toole as the emperor, which includes flashbacks to his early days. It's a far more handsomely produced film, with good battle scenes, great costumes, the most realistic interior and exterior sets so far created for a Roman movie, an intelligent script, and a memorable performance by the great Peter O'Toole.
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1/10
They got away with this?
moselekm6 September 2010
This is gonna be a short one.

I love historical fiction. I like when they create realistic characters that play a part in a historical figure's life. Rome and Tudors are great examples of this. However this one not only creates a completely unrealistic character/hero that we follow around, it also creates fictitious events and characters that actually existed.

I was excited to hear about a show that was about young Octavius during his life before becoming absolute ruler of Rome and becoming the first true Emperor. Instead we learn about a child who is completely uneducated, lacking any charisma, and lacks any actual wisdom to be a powerful ruler. It's as if they wanted to explain the magnitude of his character by making him garbage in the start and progressing his character. Sorry, but Augustus has his life written about upwards, downwards, starboard to port. He was a great and ruthless man from start to finish.

Aside from the events and characters in history being completely destroyed or missing, the character who we piggyback on, Tyrannus, is a Gladiator who is basically the greatest fighter to ever exist. And you may be excited by hearing that, but if you combine all the fights scenes in the season of this show; it still wouldn't amount to a single fight scene from Rome or Gladiator.

The plot is flushed with historical butchery and massive plot holes. Along with that, you can't seem to find any love for any of the characters and if you have a seventh grade education or higher, you'll be in disbelief that this show actually got aired.
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8/10
It's not history, it's entertainment!
usmcf4driver6 July 2005
Other commentaries have criticized this series for its historical inaccuracies. Well, it was not presented as a documentary. The critical question in reviewing any film or mini-series is "Is it entertaining?" This series is entertaining. It is presented well. The sets are excellent. The acting is far better than most television fare. The two most engrossing character portrayals are Cassius (Michael Maloney) and Tyrannus (Jonathan Cake). Those two and some of the lesser roles carry the film. Cassius is the most believable villain since Hannibal Lecter. If you enjoy good acting, Mr. Maloney's performance alone makes the series worth watching. The central character, Octavius (Santiago Cabrera) is not strong enough to create an interest for the viewer, think of Colin Farrell in Alexander. The viewer will be far more concerned with the fate of Tyrannus than that of Octavius. Other performances are so strong as to emphasize the weakness of the lead. However, only the first three episodes have been shown to date, and at this point Octavius is only a 17-year-old kid. Perhaps the weakness is an actor's or director's choice and should not be mistaken as a weak performance. As the character grows into Augustus will the performance seem stronger? Time will tell. Until then, pop some corn and enjoy the entertainment.
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4/10
Decent sets & costumes, but a poor story.
GoodMonkey29 June 2005
Yet another example of TV failing to present one of the great stories of history. They spent the time and money on decent sets, costumes, and actors, but seemed to care nothing about history. Strange, because I believe Americans would enjoy seeing the real story if it was created at this level. However, even if you allow that they can spin their own (hi)story (hey, it's their money), this story started off dull and predictable.

Other reviewers have identified historical flaws in the Octavius character, so I won't repeat them here, but the writers also threw in a gladiator character who appears to be a weak extrapolation from the hit movie. These changes are bad decisions when dealing with such a rich era. When two major characters in the series are created poorly, the series will surely suffer.

Instead of watching the rest of this series, I recommend that you read a book (even a fiction one) about this exciting era to prepare yourself for the upcoming HBO series; they should handle this era much better.
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7/10
Pretty good
Ashley King7 December 2005
Sure its not entirely historically accurate but it is being shown in Australia during the summer, when most of the good shows have gone off. I personally think this mini-series a pretty good as Rome has been reconstructed back to its former glory and the clothes they were especially the women are beautiful. I would watch this mini-series if you like History and even though its not accurate its good entertainment and isn't as boring as most historical films. This mini-series i feel was directed brilliantly and i could watch it again on a rainy day. I'm sure a lot of people who love history won't like this due to the fact its not accurate but who cares? films are meant to entertain and i believe this one does!
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9/10
Beautiful sights and sounds of an imagined Rome
kcm251 July 2005
Like that other gladiator asked of the crowd, "Are you entertained?" Regarding Empire? Heck yeah! Screw history lessons. If I want to learn Roman history then I'll do it the old fashion way and read library books, or take the new fashion route and read the cliffnotes on the internet or watch the Hitler Chan....er, I mean the History Channel. ABC's Empire is gloriously bereft of CGI and instead we are treated to beautiful sights of the Italian countryside and forests and the lively cities caught in the crossfire of a power struggle, even the stones seem to breathe. The Roman pageantry allows the viewers to feel that they are part of an ancient civilization on the cusp of greatness. The beautiful soundtrack and singing helps too.

I found myself easily forgiving the many historical liberties taken with Empire, probably because it is not difficult to explain away the discrepancies: Octavius present in Rome during Creaser's assassination and funeral? He was shown hiding in the shadows and out of the mobs' eyes. Tyrannus the recently freed gladiator turned bodyguard? Rarely shown publicly with Caesar and so far never with Octavius, thus one of the many background characters that history does not record. Fictional bodyguard for Octavius? History cliffnotes said the family begged Octavius to renounce the adoption and the inheritance in fear he would be target for possible assassinations. Octavius' status as the unfavored nephew of Caeser? History claimed people were genuinely surprised that Octavius turned out to be Caesar's heir and historians are constantly combing for clues of when Ceaser decided that Octavius was the real deal.

And folks, stop advertising HBO's Rome already, some of us don't get HBO and have no plans to fork over the $$$ to do so.
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8/10
Empire ABC Series
JUDY-14410 August 2005
Fiends and I at work thoroughly enjoyed Empire. We liked the characters as well as the actors playing them. We thought the story line was exciting and looked forward to each installment. We were not expecting a documentary or doctoral thesis, we simply enjoyed being entertained, as well as having the opportunity to learn interesting facts about antiquities, the Roman way of life and history, and period clothing. We believed Empire to be interesting, intriguing, and thought provoking as well as not insulting to our intelligence. We are vastly disappointed that Empire was canceled. We were prepared to watch Empire last week, and even speculated about whether a follow up series might be produced. Then, something else came on.
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1/10
What a load...
Robin Jacob23 April 2006
Well how about fabricating a lot of Roman History! Augustus just didn't do a lot of the stuff in this movie and it isn't as if Roman history wasn't written down. Augustus joined Caesar in two campaigns before he was 18.

After Caesar's murder there was a lot of political wrangling with Marc Anthony and eventual battles, etc. There is no need to fabricate stories when Roman history is full of good stuff.

There are many occasions in history when we just don't know much and one can speculate then... but... well what's the use... Hallmark seldom delivers on these sort of projects...

Their modern drama are much better...
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5/10
What a load of TV BS
amberbaer29 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I was not impressed with the first two hours of the new drama EMPIRE Here are a few things that I think missed the mark or made it:

1. Sets and costumes were GORGEOUS to the eye. 2. Caesar, how British must you be to always play Caesar? While I like Colm as an actor, too bad that he was a total waste of talent in the short lived role. 3. Cleopatra - totally absent from the first two hours - according to history, she was in Rome at the time of the assassination, Caesar left her bed that morning to go to the Senate. 4. The addition of people who were not really there is so LAME on the part of the writers. History shows us that these people were ruthless, back-stabbing, murdering clan of leaders and would-be leaders! 5. The lack of CGI - really well done. I prefer to see the real city and not some CGI interactive work of art. Realism should never be forsaken for cheapness! 6. Wives, Lovers, and Enemies abounded in Caesar's world, and in the world of Marc Antony, a little more backdrop story of who was really betraying who in the senate would have been better to see than the freeing of a gladiator slave. 7. Gladiator is the prime example of how to make a fight scene really draw you into a movie. The fight scenes here are so well choreographed that they appear to be dancing instead of fighting. A knock-down, drag out fight to the death is what the Arena was, not a night at the Gladiator's ball. 8. Aggripa - I'm lost on this character - damn cute actor - but not what the man truly was in history. The reviews are right about this one. 9. Historically, it's a worthless piece of TV BS that must be taken with a WHOLE SHAKER OF SALT, not just the grain! 10. Now that I have said that about the first two hours, I need to see the rest of it, hopefully with less commercials than this.

Television needs to get wise - when shopping this movie around - pick a sponsor, show it in 30 minute increments with a 5 minute commercial break. Commericalism will kill any tension, excitement and anticipation of the next scene. While it was filmed to be shown on TV - the DVD version will be far more superior to this highly cropped piece of historical BS.
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9/10
I like this show
alecwang808 July 2005
Although there are some complains that this show is not a true reflection of history, I think it is still a good show. Anyway, it may not be necessarily a history show and the point is, we can enjoy it!

There are some good scenes, including some good actions. The actors and actresses are excellent, especially the role played by Cake. We can even find a little bit similarity between this role and the one in the movie 'Gladiator' !

Anyway, I hope ABC can present more than one season of this. Is it a mini? By the way, I just can't wait to see the new show 'Rome' of HBO in August.
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1/10
Unwatchable insult to Robert E Howard
Turtle Heart24 February 2012
To call this series trash would be to elevate the nature of trash. With all due respect to the work of the honest actors, I found this series absolutely unwatchable. To take the historic events in question and treat them to this low rent drama is an insult to history. The writers would have done better if they had just made up a story for these sets and these actors. Here we have history reduced once again to something less than a comic book. When one imagines all the great films that go wanting for money and producers, and all the great stories of history waiting to be told yet again, it is somewhat tragic that this "series" was able to find its way to DVD. I could not put it in the trash fast enough.
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1/10
Worst ancient Roman Empire movie I have ever seen. Even the Italian campy peplum gladiator movies of the 1960s are better than this one.
brucefant28 June 2012
Truly wished I had not wasted my time, or money. Needless to say, unnecessary historical inaccuracies and falsehoods abound...leading me to suspect that the writers may not have passed their history classes in college. If the writers wanted to make up something entertaining, and accuracy be damned, then why not make up something completely outlandish and exciting--maybe sending Octavius to Mexico to fight the Mayans or Aztecs...or maybe turning Marc Antony into a transgendered dwarf sent to find the abominable snowman..or how about "Julius Caesar--Vampire Hunter"...cause, hey, if all you're concerned about is entertainment value, why hold back? But beyond the horrendous screen play and the poor writing, what really ticks me off about these movies with their 'casts of thousands' are the extras. To me, you only have to look at the extras in the background to tell the quality of the film. When the director tells every extra to pump their fists up and down in the air in every crowd scene...such obviously unenthusiastic and unrealistic, even fake, fist pumping which doesn't match the expression on the extra's face, tells you right away that this is a cheap piece of film even though its budget was in the tens of millions of dollars. And the battle scenes where the extras are arrayed in battle... just watching the extras in the background as they pretend to strike and parry their swords reminds me of bad amateur community theater--swear I saw a couple of rubber swords bend... and really poor unrealistic sword-fighting choreography... With the budget this film had, no reason they couldn't have gotten more 'acting' out of the extras...or maybe a fencing lesson or two. Stay away from this film unless you have no interest history.
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1/10
seen the mini series Empire
harry38 August 2005
This was a waste of time. It was not even accurate. Augustus never planned to stay in office he always planned to go back to private life and leave Rome a republic. The makers of this film should be driven out Hollywood. Augustus left Tiberius his personal estate not the empire. He never used the title Emperor. Why didn't the film makers make the film more accurate. When you watch Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor they followed History fairly well. These film makers should be taken out kicking and screaming place up against the wall and shot with paint balls. They are terrible film makers. They should of paid the studio not the studio pay them.
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1/10
Thumbs down
penarthkate28 August 2005
I missed the first bit and may watch the final instalment just for the masochistic amusement of seeing Roman history so utterly perverted. I am a Roman historian and have to say that anyone watching this will learn nothing of Roman history, culture, society or fashion if they wanted to. I thought the Peter O'Toole Augustus was rather awful but this is just s**t and it's perfectly clear that the producers didn't bother with historical advisers. I guess I'm pleased that some people watching this enjoyed it and it might spark their interest in learning something true about Rome, but the story's so good anyway that it didn't need someone making up history. Buena Vista presents this mini-series as the rise of Octavian / Augustus. Get them under the trades description act then...
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3/10
hoped more...
fausto725 April 2006
Well folks, last two nights I saw This mini series on Spain TV, as I am a beloved of everything related to Ancient History, specially on media (movies, series, documentaries). Recently also in Spain was shown another big historical series, BHO's Rome, I liked it very much, and I was hoping something in the same way. But this series, Empire, really I disliked, the way it was played and most of all the history, quite inaccurate. Some items of the history (Tyrant, for example) does not fit very well, and remembers too much Tom Scott's Gladiator (even the music was very similar in that way), another parts of the history were underestimated or even cut out. I mean the last of the Antonio's and the final fight between Octavio and Antonio, the Accio Battle and other episodes (Cleopatra affair). In deed the plot was sometimes incomplete, sometimes inappropriate. In the other hand, the players, the actors, have taken part in different ways; stand out Agripa, maybe Tyrant, sometimes Caesar, sometimes Ciceron, but the rest in my opinion sometimes overplayed (Antonio), sometimes had a poor acting (Octavio). Really hoped more
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5/10
I Was a Teenage Caesar
I've watched this four-hour TV epic on DVD with many reservations, which mostly turned out to be true. I've stopped counting the historical inaccuracies long ago and am now trying simply to enjoy this mini-series as entertainment but it's still hard to do, what with a retired Roman general named Magonius who is played by a Black man (!), a "gladiator prison" called "Arkham" (!!) and a slave, played by Jonathan (Beef) Cake, who speaks better English than his master (!!!). The treachery of Anthony is particularly appalling in historical terms but is typical of a script that must have been workshopped in a weekend writers' seminar while channeling every Roman epic cliché ever shot (including some from grand opera, like the deviant Vestal virgin) and putting their incidents in a blender, with the Cate Blanchett voice-over from "The Lord of the Rings" and the medical emergencies from "All My Children" thrown in for good measure. The production values are acceptable, the film shows a lot of sex, violence, sadism and decadence but the cinematography is divided into two groups of scenes: luscious long CGI shots of the countryside or cityscapes with great emphasis on colour, time of day, composition etc. and action/crowd scenes where the camera is jittery at all times and only captures the action in grainy or telephoto close-ups (à la "Gladiator") chopped up in an editing style which makes theses scenes very forgiving of little things like missed cues, bad stunt-work and confused direction, but unfortunately robs them of all majesty, grandeur and clarity. I suppose it could have been much worse. One positive thing is that since this was made for American television, all the major story points are repeated at least six times to allow the addle-brained viewer to follow the plot between bathroom and snack breaks. The four hours fly by rather fast even if they make the viewer less informed about Roman times than if he had never seen them.
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10/10
Empire Takes Us Back To Roman Times With an Exciting Thrust
lolu9317 July 2005
After seeing the previews, I knew that this would be a keeper. Money well spent I say. The sets, the costumes, the fight scenes blew me away. The explosive cast offers a full spectrum, mixing into a joy to watch. After the first episode, I was hooked. In fact, by the first commercial I was hooked. Those who criticize it for its lack of historical accuracy are so far in scrutiny that they are unable to enjoy it for its entertainment value. The show happens to be very well made. The weakish ratings left me confused after watching Empire. This is not just another Gladiator. Its creativity in story shows the meaning of pioneer television. I commend the writers and producers for taking the creative freedom and inventing such interesting characters and plot twists. All in all, this is MUST SEE TV. Enjoy
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9/10
Empire - bad history, but good acting...
carmen_meline31 October 2005
You guys, the movie is good. A little too good for something made by an American company. OK, bad comment here. What can I say, most of the historic dramas I've seen were not even close... And the fact that J. Cake (Tyrannus of Rome) looks yummy and acts pretty damn well helps the film A LOT... OK, so I have a soft spot for Gladiators... :-) The actors and actresses are pretty and talented, great directing and very good battle scenes. To be honest, I didn't sit around to analyze the goofiness... Almost same story as Gladiator, only the good guy doesn't die at the end and everyone kind of lives happily ever after - no news on further killings and battles. The story is good, historic facts are very well combined with the "commercial" aspect. Inspiring lines, which is a big part of the success, I give it 9 out of 10 - 5 of which are for acting... Worth seeing, really! I was hooked after seeing the 2nd part. Good thing I know my history!
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10/10
Love It !!!
pupa_mia7 December 2005
I love this show, it keeps me wanting more............................ After coincidently watching the commercial for this show, i was hooked. The first episode wasn't that bad as i got to now all the characters. Many people say its not correct as its meant to be, and i say sooo.... how many Caeser films or historical films are there in total? if all of them would be the same, how boring would that be. For example how many Cinderella films are there? More than 10 i can tell you. Their not all the same though, or else what would be the point in making a new one. This show is meant to be entertaining not exactly like its history. Besides who knows if the real history of Caeser is actually all real??? No one can really prove that. Lately on the TV there aren't many olden days films or shows, thats why i was surprised and hooked when i saw this show.

Even if people don't like the show as much i reckon all the actors put in their best performance to make the 'empire' a really successful show. I really enjoy having Jonathan Cake as the sexy gladiator. At times the film is a bit difficult to understand, but once you start watching it you get really into it. I've only seen two episodes and i already love it. I was a bit disappointed on the character that plays Octavious (Santiago Cabrera) as he isn't as strong and convincing, but then again I'm sure he will start to grow and develop as the show continuous. We also have to think that he is a teenager or a young adult in the film and at the moment he is a bit confused, but later on he will probably gain confidence and become a good ruler, i doubt that the director would have picked a bad or weak actor to do this show. Maybe its all part of the film.I probably would recommend a bit more romance and a bit more action. but I still think it deserves a 10/10, at least for Jonathan, who is an eye catching actor....
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2/10
Good Cast. Bad History, Terrible Intrusive Music.
dsmith30013 December 2006
I could forgive the bad history for the sake of the excellent cast. However the constantly whining background music found me cringing after half an hour or so, and wishing the director had opted for background silence. Movie music is supposed to heighten the drama without becoming intrusive. In this case I'm afraid there was very limited correlation between action and the music, which became monotonous after a very short time. I was persuaded to watch the movie by a cast list I respected. Mainly I was hopeful the plot would enhance my understanding of one of my favorite historical periods, and I was looking for a different perspective to that offered by Shakespeare, GB Shaw, to some degree Robert Graves and even Mankiewicz in his movie Cleopatra. Historically there is very little correlation between what I understand to be the facts of this period of Roman history, and the fantasy portrayed in the movie. Given that discrepancy, I would only recommend this as a historical fantasy. If you can stand the music, you can perhaps accept it on those terms.
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1/10
Too much gore, not enough history
maryanneh23 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I've given up on this series after two episodes. Its primary purpose seems to be showing violence, gore and really nasty men doing nasty things. I am old enough to be a huge fan of I Claudius, made back in the late 1970's and still as good today as it was then, which was an accurate and relatively bloodless account of the lives of the Caesars. This new mini series has reduced one of history's greatest stories to a cross between Gladiator, Hercules and Dallas. As for this nonsense about vestal virgins being involved... No, if they wanted to make a completely fictional uber series about Romans why not invent the entire thing instead of picking and choosing the bits of history that suited? As another reviewer very wisely said, the real story is far more interesting than this nonsense, why not either tell it like it was, or leave history out of it.
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4/10
pretty but ugly - a truly bloody and fantastic story is sanitized for TV
VikenMekhtarian13 January 2013
I am a huge fan of classical history and relish any opportunities to indulge in some good ole fashion stories about the fascinating times. The events that led to the fall of a Roman Republic and the rise of an Empire that ruled over a thousand year does not require embellishment or sexing up. It but does demands some rigorous attention to detail while keeping a historical perspective that does not dive into soap operatics. The story of the rise of Octavius, one of the geniuses of the classical times, from pretender to a throne to a God who sired a dynasty never before seen is told through the lens of a freed gladiator slave. First Mistake! of all the different ways of telling this story, why pick such a weak narrator as a noble fighter - this gladiator, though played with genuine intentions could just as easily be a hero in any mid-summer blockbuster movie. His presence does not make the story easier to tell, it just cheapens it. Second huge mistake is the Casting: everyone looks like they were selected from a catalogue: totally archetypal features yet still pretty enough to sell sweaters or insurance.

Lastly, the story: it is based on a true story, but only as much as Christian cartoons are based on what life was in the year 00. I am not sure if you will learn much from this story, except a few dates and places, which can easily be found in a 5th grader's history textbook. Despite the huge amount of archaeological and archival documents available to filmmakers nowadays which when properly combined can almost make you "smell" Rome, that city of a Million people which was the centre of the known world. Rome was the modem day equivalent of New York, Paris and Hong Kong combined. Instead what we get is a dirty village scenes, that could easily have been leftover from the set of Stargate, filled with a very homogeneous Italian looking set of extras living in huge well lit homes. I would give The Empire a pass. Instead check out Caligula, or Gladiator or even the old classic Fall of the Riman Empire.
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