300: Rise of an Empire is the most unlikely of sequels. First, it comes out eight years after the first film became a sensation. And second, it is not quite a sequel. The events of 300: Rise of an Empire take place almost concurrently with those embodied by those riveting 300 quotes.
Gerard Butler’s character of King Leonidas is seen (notice him in that 300: Rise of an Empire trailer) and heard… and heard of. But, this is truly the story of Greek Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) and his Persian warrior leader nemesis Artemisia (Eva Green).
In the opening moments of 300: Rise of an Empire, Lena Headey (back in her role as Queen Gorgo) tells the story in voice-over of a battle between Themistocles’ forces and Xerxes and his father’s Persian forces and a decision that Themistocles would make that would reverberate “throughout history.” See, Themistocles kind of killed Xerxes’ father.
Artemisia would use that rage and turn Xerxes into a god king of Persia… and a battle will rage anew as Persia’s ships will take to the water, emboldened by their victory against the 300… ready to destroy the city states of Greece, once and for all.
300: Rise of an Empire is directed by Noam Murro, who picks up the camera from the first film’s helmer Zack Snyder. Snyder still co-wrote this film and serves as the movie’s producer… and his hand prints are all over it. The film still has the visual style that made 300 a sensation. In fact, dare we say, it kind of ups the ante. The 3D pops off the screen and the action sequences make what we witnessed in 300 feel like child’s play.
The fact that much of the battle scenes take place on water as a naval battle has provided 300: Rise of an Empire filmmakers with a canvas to stretch their boundaries. It works and at the same time manages to keep our focus on two warriors that are hell-bent on destroying the other -- Themistocles and Artemisia.
In that vein, Stapleton is a solid presence. He, in many ways, picks up the sword from Butler in the first film. It was a role that made Butler a superstar and we suspect Stapleton will see a similar career surge. He commands the screen, but if there is an all-star in this flick… it is Green.
The actress channels a character that the audience cannot take their eyes off of. She is electric, psychotic and firmly in command of a military in a time where few women left the village. It is completely believable that she would be revered and feared by so many. After witnessing Green in this movie, any viewer of the film will find her so convincing, if you see her walking down the street… you will want to run the other way!
Our 300: Rise of an Empire review finds the film is truly epic and worthy of the 300 banner. It is riveting and even better than the original. That said, it knows its audience. For those who enjoy their action and violence truly visceral, it is epic. For everyone else, it may miss the mark.
Get ready for the action of 300: Rise of an Empire and watch 300 online!