Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Jack O’Connell, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, Rodrigo Santoro, Lena Headey, Andrew Tiernan, David Wenham, Gerard Butler
Directed by Noam Murro
Based on the Unpublished Graphic Novel by Frank Miller
Run Time: 102 min
Release Date: March 6, 2014
My Score: 8.5 out of 10
While King Leonidas (Butler) leads his three hundred men against the Persian army, Greek General Themistocles (Stapleton) leads the Greek navy against Xerxes’s (Santoro) naval commander Artemsia (Green) on the high seas fighting to unite all of Greece against the Persian army in hopes to change the tides of war.
WOW! Who knew blood flying in 3D could be so much fun! 300: Rise of an Empire is an anomaly, the film shouldn’t work as it is so ridiculous, brutally violent and graphic, but that is what makes the film so entertaining!
The followup to 2006’s hit film 300 has been a while in the making. Director Zack Snyder choose not to return to direct last year’s Man of Steel, but returned as executive producer with Noam Murro taking the helm. Personally, I was not a huge fan of the original film, so I was skeptical about how much I would enjoy the sequel, but a friend recommended it so I decided to give it a try. And I was completely sucked in.
This time around, the film has a strong plot and a great cast of characters. Taking place at the same time and following the events of the first film, this time the action is taken onto the high seas, allowing the action to take place on a much bigger scale. In addition to the fighting soldiers (once again some impressive special effects to make some of them look huge, ladies take note!) you have ships colliding, soldiers jumping from ship to ship, and the setting provides a bigger spectacle than the one location of the first film. The characters are also more engaging this time around. The first film had Gerard Butler, and that was it. This time we have Eva Green as Artemisia, and she is one amazing yet psychotic villain. She brings such energy to the role, and she has some questionable interests that truly help get the R rating of the film.
The lead of the film this time is taken by Sullivan Stapelton, and while he is not Gerard Butler nor does he have the memorable lines that made the first movie a hit, I much preferred him. Not quite sure how to articulate him, but I found him less over the top as Butler and somewhat more relate-able, which grounded the movie a bit more (he wasn’t as intimidating as Butler either, no nearly as massive, maybe that’s it!) But his one scene with Eva Green, wow! That scene was pretty intense and graphic, no spoilers but you will now exactly what I’m talking about when you see it. Waiting to see what the extended cut of that scene will bring!
The 3D aspect of the film worked really well. It was very compelling uses of 3D technology in a while, probably one of the most impressive since 2009’s Avatar and really helped make the movie that much more ridiculous and entertaining. Blood constantly flew out at the audience in 3D, so really there is no other way to experience them film other than 3D. The film is ridiculous to begin, and to enjoy it the most you must embrace that and see the 3D version to get the full experience. And Junkie XL’s score was also impressive to, lots of heavy battle music that elevated the action, making a good impression of the composer to myself as I’m always critical of the scores.
And don’t worry, the ending leads it completely wide open for a third and final film in what will inevitably become a trilogy, as there are many loose ends to be tied up. Not sure how good a third film will be based on what will be present, but if it follows the same idea as this film, it could be quite enjoyable and help me forget even more how much I didn’t care for the first film!
300: Rise of an Empire is an intense film loaded with action, blood, and some interesting scenes that you won’t see in most films, but for my verdict I say its more enjoyable than the first film and easily one for anyone looking for a crazy action film to check out for sure in the next few weeks in 3D.