During Xerxes’ (Rodrigo Santoro) land campaign against King Leonidas’ 300 Spartans, Athenian general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) rallies Greek’s city states against Artemisia (Eva Green), commander the massive Persian Navy.
There is no doubt that 300 was a success when came out in 2007. It may not have been a very deep movie, but it’s hyper-realism gave it a unique look. 300: Rise of an Empire is very much the same experience only more violent and sexier than before.
If you enjoyed the airbrush feel of 300 like I did, you will like it here. Rise of an Empire has the same visual style as before. The stylized violence returns as well. Although 300 offered its fair share of blood, it seemed to focus more on the strike that drew the blood, such as the sword slash or spear stab. This movie, however, held nothing back when it came to blood splatter. It reminded me of Dredd where anytime there was blood there was a ton of it.
Where the Spartans fought on land, Themistocles and his Greek army fights on the water. It makes for a different experience and set pieces. The naval battles are pretty impressive. One of the first battles has two Greek ships destroying a Persian ship by sandwiching it between their bows. It looks pretty amazing, particularly with the cinematography, and makes for a good contrast to the combat in 300.
Like it’s predecessor, Rise of an Empire is based off of a book written by Frank Miller. This time it is based off Xerxes, which hasn’t been released yet. It acts as a prequel/side-story to the events depicted in 300. It was easy to determine when the events of 300 occurred because there were brief glimpses or references to the Spartan’s actions. The plot shares many elements from before, too, such as a father-son fighting duo and the leader’s life-long friend. However, it feels like a simple rehash of the relationships in 300, rather than a new, original story.
Eva Green is by far the star of this film. She completely gets into the role of Artemisia. Very similar to Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) she proves that she is more that capable of taking care of herself, both on and off the battlefield. She is also one of the few characters given much back story or deep motivation.
Except for Artemisia, the characters aren’t very memorable. Members of the Greek army were pretty one-dimensional. They tried to make some character relationships, like a father and son, and the leader’s best friend, to expand the characters but it didn’t work as well as it did in 300. Themistocles pales in comparison to Leonidas. Sullivan Stapleton lacks the charisma of Gerard Butler and the character suffers for it.
300: Rise of an Empire is the sequel few really asked for, but somehow manages to hold its own. Visually, it shares the same hyper-realistic style that made 300 so enjoyable, and the water combat served as a nice variation to the Spartan’s land battles. Besides Eva Green’s Artemisia, who Green fully embraces, none of the main characters are very memorable. This film shares many similarities to 300 that made that film entertaining, but it feels too similar to make it really stand out as a new experience.
Cast & Crew
Noam Murro – Director
Zack Snyder – Screenplay
Kurt Johnstad – Screenplay
Junkie XL – Composer
Sullivan Stapleton – Themistocles
Eva Green – Artemisia
Lena Headey – Queen Gorgo
Hans Matheson – Aesyklos
Callan Mulvey – Scyllias
David Wenham – Dilios
Rodrigo Santoro – Xerxes
Jack O’Connell – Calisto
Andrew Tiernan – Ephialtes
Igal Naor – King Darius
Andrew Pleavin – Daxos