In 2006, moviegoers were introduced to the legendary Spartan warriors, known as the “300.” Now, eight years later, the story continues.
Based off of another graphic novel, “Xerxes,” by the legendary writer Frank Miller, “300: Rise of an Empire” provides blood-splattering action.
With Greece in danger of falling to a tyrannical god-king known as Xerxes, a Greek general named Themistocles tries to unite all of Greece in order to change the course of this coming war. It soon becomes not only a battle of wits and physicality, but also one that is fought in the sea. Determined to be the victor, Xerxes utilizes a valued asset in this fight: the vengeful and quite beautiful and very deadly, Artemisia, commander of the Persian navy.
The one thing I love about this film is that it is filled with almost all newcomers. Sullivan Stapleton (“Strike Back”), Callan Mulvey (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Jack O’Connell (BBC’s “Skins”), along with Eva Green (“Casino Royale”) round out the cast.
The film also features cast members from the first film: Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo), David Wenham (Dilios) and Rodrigo Santoro (Xerxes).
The film is directed by Noam Murro (“Smart People”) with a script penned by Zack Snyder (“300”) and Kurt Johnstad (“300”). While I truly wish that Snyder, who helmed the first one, had directed a film of this magnitude, I do commend Murro on his travels into a new genre and his success. But it does make me wonder how much input Snyder had into this production.
While the film serves a bit of both a prequel and sequel, the action is almost nonstop throughout the film. I personally am partial to the first film, just because it was the first film that showed us how truly brutal and bloody war was back in those days.
One thing I will commend this film for is the battle scenes on the water. With pitch-black water and the ultimate destruction of wooden ships against other wooden ships, you actually feel like you are entrenched in battle among the Aegean Sea’s unkind tides.
One of the main disappointments I had was the relationship of the characters Themistocles and Artemisia. They are such complex characters and are wonderfully acted out by Sullivan Stapleton and Eva Green. However, there is palpable tension between these two and we only just get to see a little of this tension played out throughout the film.
If you are a fan of 3D, I would recommend it for this film. I know that 3D is such a biased territory these days, but films like this function better when they are shown in a visually stimulating way.
I am giving the film a three out of five stars for great action, amazing visual effects and a terrific storyline.
Story by John Gruccio, Contributing writer