BLU-RAY REVIEW: 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: NOAM MURRO / SCREENPLAY: ZACK SNYDER, KURT JOHNSTAD / STARRING: SULLIVAN STAPLETON, RODRIGO SANTORO, EVA GREEN, LENA HEADEY, JACK O’CONNELL / RELEASED: OUT NOW
Based on Frank Miller’s Xerxes graphic novel, this sequel to Zack Snyder’s 2006 300 picks things up after the death of Gerard Butler’s Leonidas and the 300 that gave their lives at the climax of Snyder’s movie. With Queen Gorgo (Headey) dealing with the loss of her husband and the threat of the Persian forces, a politically minded Greek general by the name of Thermistokles (Sullivan) steps up to the plate to try and unite Greece for the greater good against their powerful Persian foes, led by the Godlike Xerxes (Santoro) and badass navy commander Artemisia (Green).
300: Rise of an Empire is a strange beast. It manages to balance being its own film and story whilst also feeling very much like its predecessor. Still, the end result is a film that doesn’t ever truly hit the heights of the first film. The film oozes classic Miller-style dialogue, with many a strong, uplifting, rallying speech included. And then there’s the bloodshed - the glorious bloodshed. Lashings of blood flood the screen during some of the more intense battles, complete with various limbs being lopped off, made even more surprising given that the film is only a 15 rating. We guess with it being CGI blood, all rules are off when it comes to the censors. And the blood isn’t the only thing that is CGI in Murro’s movie.
Similar to 300, this is a film that has extensive, major work done in post-production. Again similar to Snyder’s original movie, the film, at times, looks absolutely stunning. Whilst not having quite the same grainy, gritty feel and look of the first film, Rise of an Empire still manages to impress, even if it sometimes comes across as the more smartly groomed sibling to Snyder’s scruffy older brother. It’s only when watching the interesting, informative featurettes included in the release that you see just how much work is done after the event, much like 300 or the two Sin City movies.
In terms of performances, Sullivan Stapleton does a decent job in heading up the film, whilst Eva Green is fantastic as Artemisia, delivering a no-nonsense female shit-kicker with a mean streak a mile long. Both Lena Headey and Rodrigo Santoro do well in their respective roles, although they always come across as the side orders to the main dish of Thermistokles and Artemisia. Callan Mulvey and Jack O’Connell do well when given their moments to shine as part of Thermistokles army, whilst there’s also plenty of appearances from characters introduced in 300.
In terms of adrenaline, action, bulging machismo and bare flesh (Eva Green looking particularly spectacular in the Blu-ray transfer), 300: Rise of an Empire offers plenty. It manages the job of expanding the story of the first film but still carves its own path, although still falls a little short when held up against its predecessor. Still, this is a film that has plenty to offer genre fans and fans of the source material.
Special Features: Five featurettes
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