Does a movie from eight years ago really need a sequel? Was anyone clamoring to see more of the Spartans versus the Persians?
I certainly wasn’t, as I didn’t care for the first 300 and certainly didn’t see the need for a sequel. However, since 300 was hugely successful and made lots of money, the appeal is obvious from a business standpoint. If you were a big fan of the first flick, you’ll likely find 300: Rise of an Empire worth seeing, mostly on the strength of its villain.
Something that stands out in Rise of an Empire was the presence of a female villain. Casual audiences may not remember much about this movie after leaving the theater, but one thing that will be hard to forget is former Bond girl Eva Green (Casino Royale) as Artemisia, leader of the Persian army. Forget about the guys. Instead, Artemisia was the character with the most charismatic personality. Her part was way over-the-top and outlandish, but I was quite impressed by Green’s gusto in playing the role. In fact, I was almost rooting for her at the end even though she was the “bad guy.”
There is a lot about Rise of an Empire that makes it pretty darn similar to its predecessor. One thing that stays the same is the scores of shirtless men with six-pack abs. There are a lot of big, bloody battles with interspersed slow motion moments. Lena Heady, who played Queen Gorgo in the first flick, makes a few brief appearances, but noticeably missing from the sequel is star Gerard Butler, who played King Leonides. Apparently, Butler decided he didn’t want to reprise his role.
Instead, actor Sullivan Stapleton steps in as Themistokles, head of the Athenian army. Stapleton got the grimace down, but was otherwise lacking in personality and charm. He was definitely outshined by Green.
Zach Snyder, director of 300, this time serves only as screenwriter and hands over the directing reins to Noam Murro. The change in director is hardly noticeable, as Murro’s style seems very similar to Snyder’s.
This is definitely a movie for adult eyes only. The violence is graphic (I’m talking decapitated heads and lots of blood spill) and so is the sex (one scene in particular). The storyline is nonsensical and almost nonexistent, especially for someone who doesn’t follow Frank Miller’s graphic novel this was based on. And if you’re a history buff, don’t expect this movie to match up with what really happened. Basically, the Persians are attempting to take over Greece. As we know from the first flick, the 300 Spartans have been wiped out from facing the Persians. This time, it’s the Athenians as the main warriors who attempt to take down the Persian army. Realizing they need help, Themistokles calls in the Spartans to help them in battle.
Still, I doubt most people are going in anticipating a complicated story. However, it just felt like the actors were saying lines in between battle scenes, instead of the dialogue furthering the plot. ••
Movie Grade: C-