300: Rise of an Empire is a prequel/sequel to the original 300 (2006) film. There are events spanning from before, during, and after the events of the original film. The original film was filled with comic book style action, blood, gore, nudity, etc. That’s not surprising because the films are based off of graphic novels created by Frank Miller. The new film is no different and is based off of the unreleased Frank Miller graphic novel Xerxes.
Instead of Leonidas, the main character of the new film is Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton). Themistocles, in a battle that takes place before the original 300, shoots an arrow that pierces the heart of the Persian King Darius. This leaves Darius’ son Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his naval commander Artemisia (Eva Green) seeking revenge. Xerxes goes on a journey to become the “God-King” and returns to Persia declaring war on Greece. Years later, Themistocles plans to form a fleet and engage the Persians at sea. He also goes to Sparta to seek help from Leonidas, but he is already gone. Instead he speaks to Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), who is reluctant to side with the Athenians. He along with a fleet of Athenians go head to head with Artemisia’s fleet as she seeks vengeance.
The film, as started earlier, is filled with over stylized action, blood, gore, and nudity. At times it is cheesy and dumb. But at the same time, it is fun to watch. Eva Green’s Artemisia absolutely makes the film. If it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the film as much as I did. Sure the slow motion adrenaline fueled violent action scenes can be fun to watch, but the first film was much more memorable. The first film had a better main character (I definitely missed Gerard Butler in this film), more memorable dialogue, and Zack Synder did a better job as a director than Noam Murro. It almost felt like Noam Murro was trying too hard to be similar to Zack Synder.
Sullivan Stapleton does a decent job as Themistocles, but I couldn’t help but think of Leonidas and how much I missed him during the film. Eva Green’s performance as Artemisia is the standout of the film. She is evil, vicious, brutal, cunning, sexy, and a complete bad-ass. When she’s on screen you get scared of what she might do next. Eva Green does a great job of portraying all the things that make Artemisia memorable. Lena Headey and Rodrigo Santoro do a decent job, but they aren’t really offered much to work with. The film involves Themistocles and Artemisia way more than any of the other characters.
Overall, the film has some of what the original 300 had in terms of over-the-top action, violent, blood, and gore, but it’s missing the more important aspects. It’s missing a more interesting main character, memorable lines, epic speeches, and the epic moments that made the original so memorable. This film never had a “THIS IS SPARTA!!” or a “Tonight, we dine in hell” moment. It’s slightly fun to watch and Eva Green is the most memorable aspect of the film – seriously I think she raised the rating a whole point. The only scenario I can think of that would make me enjoy the film more was if I was intoxicated while watching it.
• There was a sex scene that was also sort of a battle and it was priceless. Seriously, I think it was the most memorable scene of the movie (I don’t know if that’s a good thing…..).
• That scene eventually led to the line “You fight harder than you fuck”. A pretty memorable line in my opinion.