Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t King Leonidas and the rest of the Spartan Battalion get wiped out at the end of 300? It’s a little ridiculous to have a sequel to movie and call it 300: Rise Of An Empire when the 300 are dead, but that’s never stopped Hollywood before. We all remember Weekend At Bernie’s II, right? 300: Rise Of An Empire is no where close to Jaws The Revenge territory, but after viewing this sequel, I can’t help but ask: Was it really necessary to revisit the Greeks again in?
300: Rise Of An Empire is part prequel, part companion piece and part sequel to 300. It starts out highlighting the early days of the Persian King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) as he rose to power globally. I actually really dug the Persian prequel aspect highlighting the creepy Xerxes and his Greek defecting woman warrior Artemisia (Eva Green) at his side. Unfortunately, the Persian king is abandoned for most of 300: Rise Of An Empire for the far less interesting Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton). This is when the evil prequel aspect disappears and the forced ties to the film’s predecessor begins.
It is obvious how badly the makers of 300: Rise Of An Empire wanted Gerard Butler’s charisma and character, Leonidas, in the sequel – but like I said before, the guy is dead. Leonidas is referenced casually during the companion piece portion of, but is conveniently out of frame during the film. A great deal of 300: Rise Of An Empire deals with the Battle of Artemisium, which was the Naval Battle happening during 300. I actually enjoyed the naval warfare scenes even if they focused mainly on the dull Themistocles and the Eva Green’s mopey and expressionless Artemisia. The two lead actors were, without a doubt, one of the low points of the film.
Besides the lifeless acting and forced prequel/sequel story telling, my major problem was the visual style. Back in 2007, the effects and cinematography of 300 was groundbreaking. People, myself included, went crazy for the blood splatter set to golden-brown, cloudy skies. Now, seven years later, Zack Snyder’s style has been emulated over and over again and 300: Rise Of An Empire is no different. After the third or fourth decapitation in the first 20 minutes, I began to yawn. I wish Zack Snyder would have given the audience something as fresh as the original 300 did seven years ago. In the end, 300: Rise Of An Empire is a whole lot of splatter that doesn’t really matter.
Overall, I give 300: Rise Of An Empire 2 out of 4 stars.
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