Review: 300 – Rise of an Empire / Cert: 15 / Director: Noam Murro / Screenplay: Zack Snyder, Kurth Johnstead / Starring: Rodrigo Santoro, Eva Green, Sullivan Stapleton / Release Date: Out Now
The follow up to the now-iconic 300 is pretty much what you'd expect – lots of stylized gory violence, with slow-mo shots and six-packs aplenty, all in impressive 3D.
Murro’s Rise of an Empire is a prequel, concurrent story and sequel to 300 all in one, based on Frank Miller’s upcoming graphic novel Xerxes. Early on we see the impressive transformation from Xerxes the hairy soldier through to the 10-foot tall enigmatic god-king introduced in the previous instalment (both Rodrigo Santoro). However, there isn’t as much of him as one would like – the main focus of the movie is on his bitter commander Artemisia (Green), doing his dirty work while he rules from a golden throne.
While the 300 Spartans are putting in a shift of work elsewhere, the popular Athenian general Themistokles (Stapleton) has the small task of uniting all of Greece against Persia, including Spartan queen Gorgo (Headey), Dilios (Wenham) and others returning from the first film. More familiar faces also return in the form of cameos, but very briefly and without impact.
The battle of wits between Themistokles and Artemisia make for an interesting movie, especially as the main battles take place at sea. Several new characters are introduced, buffed up from historic Greek workout regimes of course, and there is one of the angriest sex scenes you’ll ever see.
Unfortunately Rise of an Empire is a victim of its own precedent – it’s something you’ve seen before and feels neither as new or fresh as 300. The normally reliable Green hams it up a little too much, and although a new cast (including Jack O’Connell and Callan Mulvey as father and son soldiers) add something to the proceedings, it’s all been done before.
Sullivan Stapleton takes up Gerard Butler’s reins well and there may be another film in the franchise yet. Rise of an Empire is worth a watch, with a couple of new lines to quote and some comedic moments, but falls slightly short of its predecessor.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10