300: Rise of an Empire could possibly be the most exaggerated and bloodiest movie to come out in years. Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, Xerxes, this 300 sequel is full of visually stunning graphics and a semi-interesting plot. The story of 300: Rise of an Empire follows Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton, Animal Kingdom, Gangster Squad) as he attempts to thwart the evil Persian Empire on the waves of the Aegean Sea. Themistokles is a legend throughout the senate halls of Athens for the arrow that he plunged into heart of Xerxes’ father, Darius, during the Battle of Marathon. It has been ten years since that battle that claimed the life of the King and Persia is stronger than ever.
Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro, 300, Rio) is an interesting character that really isn’t allowed to fully develop in this film. Xerxes is the Persian god-king that slays the Spartan king, Leonidias, and his faithful 300 men in the first movie. 300: Rise of an Empire shows Xerxes in his final god-king state, but it also shows him as a weak, feeble man who competes for his father’s love with Artemisia (Eva Green, Casino Royale). The character of Xerxes is powerful and great in stature, but there is only about one minute of this whole movie dedicated to how he achieved his dark power. The timeline of this entire movie is confusing for someone who has not read the graphic novel or is unfamiliar with Greek folklore.
Artemisia is the leader of the Persian fleet that Themistokles faces throughout the movie. She is a born Greek that was tortured from her youth and forced into slavery where she grew to hate Greece. Left for dead and found no longer valuable by her captures, Artemisia is taken under the wing by one of the top Persian guardsmen. He trains her to be a deadly warrior and she quickly rises to the highest rank possible in the Persian army.
The fight sequences between Themistokles and Artemisa are impressive. These intense battle sequences are the meat of the movie and the main reason that anyone would go see this movie. Camera angles follow one character to the next as they smash swords through skulls and severe limbs from human bodies. My favorite part of the fighting in both of the 300 movies is the grotesquely disfigured humans that resemble monsters and orcs. This unfortunately is also where the over exaggeration comes into play in this movie. The special effects are a little too much at time and come across as a little cartoony.
While much of this movie parallels the first one, it also includes flashbacks and provides a glimpse of a future battle to win it all between the Greeks and Persians. The timeline is confusing and the narration doesn’t really flow well with the story. While this movie does lack cohesion, I can’t help but return to the stunning visual graphics that make this a must have in the future for my Blu-Ray collection.
Final Synopsis - Zack Snyder knows what he is doing when it comes to directing dark and graphic movies. I appreciate the attention to detail in all of the fight scenes, but I wish there was more character development. I feel that this movie tries to force me to love Themistokles like the first movie does with Leonidas. The huge differece is that Sullivan Stapleton is not Gerard Butler and doesn’t make the same connection with the audience.
Perhaps the most impressive acting performance in the entire movie was from Eva Green in her role as Artemisia. She is both seductive and disgusting at the same time. Her presence is disturbing and she manages to deliver an uncomfortable sense of darkness to her character. Too bad for the fact she had to die and will not be around to complete the trilogy because her character was the most well-rounded character in the movie.
If this movies does well in the box office, and it should, then we can almost bet on there being a third and final installment with the 300 name attached to it. I look for that movie to be the complete destruction of Xerxes’ forces and show Themistokles heralding the head of the dead god-king for all of Greece to see.
So, the question is - are you looking for blood and gore this weekend? If so, then look no further than 300: Rise of an Empire. This is the best action movie out right now and definitely worth the extra bucks to see this in IMAX 3D, so this movie gets a “Bag it!”
Galen is a Graphic Designer in Wake Forest, NC. He is the husband of a wonderful Oklahoma girl and dad of a future Marvel Comics fan. He enjoys comic-related anything, the Boston Red Sox and sharpening his axe for the zombie apocalypse.