<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Noam Murro. Starring Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro
It may not be historically accurate or particularly clever but 300: Rise of an Empire is a brilliantly made, visually awesome and action-packed film with a great villain.
If 300 Spartans fall down…
The original 300, directed by Zack Snyder and based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, was a groundbreaking piece of filmmaking, redefining a genre and painting a wet dream for women and gay men. Of course that one had the personality and brute force of Gerard Butler who played Leonidas, the Spartan king who took his 300 men into battle against the Persian god-king Xerxes and sacrificed themselves for their cause.
300: Rise of an Empire isn’t exactly a sequel or a prequel to 300. They’re actually overlapping. So references to 300 and even some footage from the film with Gerard Butler are used in Rise of an Empire as Athenian General Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) fights a parallel battle on the seas. He’s up against Xerxes’ general Artemisia (Eva Green) and only has farmers, poets and sculptors fighting with him. They all look they go to the gym twice a day though!
Bad is good
Eva Green as Artemisia is deliciously vile. She oozes sexuality and psycho with equal measure and has as much fun beheading her own Persian troops as she does the Greeks’. And even though Frank Miller’s novel was called Xerxes, this film adaptation is more about Artemisia than the god-king. Perhaps also because Sullivan Stapleton isn’t as effective as Gerard Butler was in 300. He’s still a lot better than those chaps in the other gladiator and Greek god films we’ve seen recently.
What I love about 300: Rise of an Empire is the visual magnificence of it all. Dark hues and plenty of fight sequences that are still clear and vivid. None of that horrible action sequence fuzz where you can’t see what’s going on. The slo-mo to speed up effects that were made popular by 300 and copied by several films after are used well, so you see the action like a violent ballet, lots of thick blood spurting on to the screen.
The 3D is more immersive and impressive in scenes like the ones where Xerxes is towering high above a battle on the waters or addressing his armies.
300: Rise of an Empire is a fun, riveting and visually unique film with a villain that is as pretty as she is intriguing and dastardly.