300: Rise of an Empire picks up where 300 leaves off, after Xerxes has defeated the Leonidas’ 300 and is marching towards Athens. Like 300, it is based on a Frank Miller graphic novel but sees the original director, Zac Snyder penning the screenplay and also in a producer role.
Whereas 300 was focused on the battle against the Persians in the mountain pass, 300: Rise of an Empire is much more epic and sweeping, instead focusing on the sea battle with the Greeks that follows the defeat of the Spartan’s. Before the action though, we get a little peek back in time to see how Xerxes came to be the evil tyrant he is, and are introduced to his naval henchwoman, the witchlike Artemesia (Eva Green). She has brains, beauty, and a real nasty side you probably don’t want to meet. She confidently commands Xerxes’ ships into battle against the much outnumbered Greeks, led by their commander Themistokles, played by Aussie, Sullivan Stapleton. Much to her surprise, the Greeks are a bit scrappier than she anticipated and causes her some real headaches.
Fans of 300 won’t be disappointed in this sequel, as it features the same cinematic style, exaggerated bloody violence, and familiar gimmicks like sudden slow-motion in the middle of fight scenes. The new storyline and characters are woven fairly seamlessly in with the old, but it makes you wonder why it took them so long to make a sequel. So much of the style of the original 300 has been referenced in cinema and pop culture that it seems a little bit run of the mill, even though it is the first sequel to a groundbreaking original. Though some of the naval fight scenes are visually impressive, they are a bit too simple, and don’t do much to sell you on Artemesia’s strategic brilliance. But, the close combat and sword fighting is even better, and like the original there is lots of beefcake eye candy.
Acting-wise, 300: Rise of an Empire isn’t going to win any Oscar’s but Eva Green is worth mentioning as she is excellent in the role of Artemesia. Other performances are good, about what one would expect from a film where the main draw is violence and gore. That pretty much applies to the movie in general: it doesn’t break any new ground, but will surely give fans lots more of what they liked about the original.
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::: Renowned For Sound Technical Director and Film Reviewer ::: Robert is an IT geek, movie fan and part-time movie reviewer/editor. Robert also looks after the ‘behind the scenes’ technical elements of Renowned For Sound.