“300” sequel: 1D film, 3D sex


Warner Bros.

Eva Green: “Rise” indeed

“300: Rise of an Empire” takes battle to the seas and continues the stylistic gore and glory that was introduced to audiences in the original 2006 release.

The film follows the Greek General Themistocles, played by Sullivan Stapleton (“Animal Kingdom,” “Gangster Squad”) as he fights a large Persian force led by Artemisia, played by Eva Green (“Casino Royale,” “Dark Shadows”).

Artemisia is a throat slicing and stonehearted Persian commander who wants vengeance more than anything. Themistocles believes in a united Greece more than anything.

The battles in “Rise of an Empire” overlap with Sparta’s outnumbered fight against King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro); the timeline of the film continues after the heroism that ends the first film.

In “Rise of an Empire” the Spartans are reintroduced as a prideful state that clings to an ideology that clashes with the democratic pursuits of Themistocles. Spartan Queen, Gorgo (Lena Headey) narrates the story of physical and political battles.

All of Greece must unite if they are to survive the Persian God-King Xerxes; Sparta must be convinced to join forces if Greece is to rise as a powerful empire.

High school me was spellbound by the original “300;” the blood and swords and abs and slow motion made me gasp, “holy shit.”

Going into the second film, I was worried that I would be re-watching a crappier version of “300” with nothing new to offer. I wasn’t totally correct in my assumption.

The change in battle location and character-focus separated “Rise of an Empire” from the first film. The protagonist Themistocles led his own battle against Persia, hollering and leading with zeal separate from King Leonidas of the first film.

It felt new enough that I was happy with spending the $9.00 for violent entertainment. The slow motion blood spatters and spear throws still kicked ass.

The turbulent Aegean Sea and night sky serves as setting for most of the film. The waves and crashing naval ships are monstrous and forceful. It was a theater experience that made my eardrums bang and my pupils expand.

There were slow parts, but when action escalated I wanted to take in all the aesthetic guts and glory.

“Rise of an Empire” is written by Zack Snyder (“300,” “Sucker Punch,” “Man of Steel”) and Kurt Johnstad.

The screenplay is adapted from Frank Miller’s graphic novel “Xerxes.”

The film is directed by Noam Murro (“Smart People,” “HBO Imagine”).

Stuffed in between naval battles is a sex scene that is rough and sporadic and full of violent tension.

The two bodies rock and wave like the Aegean Sea. Armor and dresses are ripped off, void of romance, but full of animal desire. The scene is like another battle. More than developing storyline the scene serves as one of the “holy shit” moments.

Indeed, there are spectacles in the film. Every single scene is crisp. Lovers of CGI dominated films will not be disappointed with the story of Greece versus Persia. There is too much to look at.

The soldiers kick cold dark mud as they march; even this slow motion dirk seems important. Bloody, scarred hands row and plead against the battlefield waters. The wood grain cutting into willing, free hands is contrasted to the Persian slaves who row under the whips of Artemisia. Uncontrollable firebombs are catapulted across dark water and sky to destroy. The details made me feel like I was looking at scarred shoulders and steel helmets with vision greater than 20/20.

Perhaps the strongest human connection is between a Grecian father and son. The duo fights on splintering naval ships and spear death away multiple times. Audience’s watch as the young boy earns his father’s respect.

The film gives backstory for its handful of characters, especially Themistocles, Artemisia and Xerxes. This gives a brittle sense that the film is layered.

For the most part the film is pretty flat. The special effects and battle scenes are what make this film worth it. The acting and storyline will not call me back for a second watch.

I choose the original “300” over “Rise of an Empire.” The second film entertained me and green-screened some things that I have never seen before, but it did not wow me as much as the first.