Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘300: Rise of an Empire’ Review: Starring Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green & Lena Headey

No Spartans and less than ten minutes of Queen Lena Headey are the two dreadful things I remember about this sequel to Zac Snyder’s campy 2007 film 300. Also, no Michael Fassbender and no Gerard Butler. I know that couldn’t really be helped, but it does put a damper on the film, especially when the new leading men couldn’t manage to get out of the shade that was left by their glorious gold Spartan shields. Who could forget Fassy’s “Fight in the shade” moment from the first film?

On the other hand, 300: Rise of an Empire features an exquisite performance from Eva Green, who plays the cold, sexy and menacing villain in the film. Green is easily the best part of the film and was the perfect choice to play the leading lady in this visually stylized film. I only wish there were a few moments where her and Headey had a face off.

Based off of Frank Miller’s graphic novel “Xerses,” director Noam Murro’s 300: Rise of an Empire is about what happened during and after the 2007 film 300. Though Zac Synder didn’t direct this second chapter, he co-wrote and produced the film. This film follows Greek general Themistokles’ (Sullivan Stapleton) battle as he attempts to unite all of Greece by fighting the invading Persians led by the God King Xerses (Rodrigo Santoro) and Artemisia (Eva Green).

The battle sequences take place at sea, which ended up being a bit distracting with the digital water splashing everywhere and looked too fuzzy in 3D. There is also a super cheesy scene where Theomistokles in on a horse jumping from boat to boat and although I love a fun action scene, all I could think about was “where did that horse come from?”

If you choose to see the film behind 3D glasses, you will get a much gloomier and blurry picture. The 3D hurts the film by making it darker and murky. Regular 2D would be the best way to see this film and maybe when I get my Blu-ray, my rating might actually turn out to be higher than the 2.5/5 stars since I’ll be able to see more of the stunning visuals!

Beside the lame attempt at 3D, this sequel’s screenplay doesn’t attempt to develop any other character beside Artemisia (Green). I never felt any connection to leading man Themistokles, like I did with King Leonidas in the first film. We saw the story of the Spartans in the first film, while this sequel chose to focus on the Greek soldiers that were fighting for their country. The screenplay didn’t develop these heroes, like the first film did with the Spartans, so I had trouble rooting for them and connecting with them. Frankly, this film was just not as interesting, making it an unnecessary sequel.

2007’s 300 made its mark in cinema for its striking visuals, memorable movie quotes (“This is Sparta!”) and was led by a powerful Gerard Butler. The sequel may have lived up to the hype if it had more character development, more Lena Headey, who was a pivotal character in the first or if it had actually been directed by Zac Snyder.

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