Published on March 7th, 2014 | by gareth0
300: Rise of an Empire
We have two reviews for you today. The second review by Christopher Daniels is right after mine.
Seven years have passed since Frank Miller’s classic Graphic Novel 300 was adapted into a hit film and made a star of the largely unknown Gerard Butler.
The follow up film, “300 Rise of an Empire” is both a sequel and a prequel to the original film as it takes place before and after the events of the first film and involves Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), a general from Athens who is tasked with defeating the invading Persian navy with only a handful of soldiers and ships who years earlier at the Battle of Marathon put the events of the two films in motion with his actions on the battlefield.
The film also chronicles the rise of the mortal turned god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his brutal right hand Artemesia (Eva Green), who plays a deadly game against the Greeks and Themistocles based on a long standing desire for revenge against the Greeks despite being Greek herself.
While the film is slow getting started as there is a lot of back story and character introductions to chronicle, the film does start off nicely with the bloody battle of Marathon and then sets up several battles along the way.
Lena Headey is the only returning character of note aside from Xeres and she does a good job in her limited time as the Queen of Sparta who must make hard decisions for her people.
The film uses the same graphical style of the previous film and while there is tons of blood and splatter, it is done with CGI and this helps diminish the impact of seeing copious amounts of blood and gore flying through the air during the numerous battles.
The 3D in the film is effective and seeing the embers from the fires float around was a nice touch.
The cast was engaging and entertaining despite being largely unknown and Stapleton does a nice job with the lead as he does not try to recreate the performance of Butler and instead focuses on his own character.
While it plays out largely like it is, a film version of a comic, Zack Snyder who produced the film and wrote the screenplay has done a good job with the source material. Director Noam Murro keeps the action flowing and gives a nice mix of visuals and character to overcome some of the issues with plot and pacing.
In the end, the film is an enjoyable action film and a worthy follow up to the original which sets the stage well for future films.
3.5 stars out of 5.
Second Review by Christopher Daniels
Well, kids, after eight years of waiting, we finally have a sequel to 300. Like most sequels, it won’t blow your mind. But it’s a film worth seeing.
The original 300 graphic novel, created by the legendary Frank Miller, was converted into a screenplay by Zack Snyder and Scott Johnstad. The duo has once again taken pen to paper to bring us this bloody sequel to quench our warrior thirst.
The movie opens with a strong recounting of the original story before quickly focusing on our main character, Themistokles (played by Sullivan Stapleton). It’s a relatively unknown character played by a relatively unknown actor. History tells us that Themistokles loosed the arrow that killed King Darius, the father of would-be God-King Xerxes. This action and the subsequent sparing of the young boy’s life sets into motion the chain of events leading to the 300-Spartan massacre at the hot gates, which was depicted in the first film.
Themistokles attempts to rally the city-states of Greece to present a united front against the Persian Army, but he receives much resistance from Sparta. They care little for the rest of Greece, wishing only to be left in isolation.
As an accomplished Sea Captain, Themistokles takes to the ocean, where much of the film’s blood battles take place.
This film makes frequent leaps backwards, forwards, and even laterally in time. On occasion, it’s hard to keep track of. In a film such as this, it’s not uncommon to have flashbacks, but 300: Rise of an Empire skips all over the place. It tries to interlace the events that lead up to 300 with the actions of Themistokles during that time, and then of course with the events immediately following the end of the first film.
Despite the chaotic flow, I believe the director did the best he could with the non-linear plot.
One note about the script: I had no idea why I was supposed to care about the main character. There wasn’t the same call to action that the first film had around King Leonidas.
It was great to see certain cast members from the previous film reprising their roles. Having to reconcile a new face with a familiar name distracts us from the story. The acting was truly top-notch.
Concerning the cinematography and action sequences: they were outstanding, as expected. The slow-motion captures built tension tinged with a note of expectation, and they kept delivering on those expectations. However, while I feel that most of the events in the original 300 were largely believable, despite their roots in graphic novel fantasy, the action in this film, on several occasions, exceeded that believability threshold. It crossed a line, and I was unable to suspend my disbelief. From leaping off a cliff onto a ship, to the water warfare, to even the glass ocean, it was a bit much. The most egregious example was the horse-over-the-ships scene. In addition to being wildly fantastical, it was also visually confusing, making it hard to know what was going on.
All in all, this movie is worth seeing if you are an action, gladiator, 300, or graphic novel fan. You will be entertained, but keep your expectations low. It doesn’t deliver the way the first one did.
3 out of 5 Stars
Editor: Jeff Boehm