300: Rise of an Empire

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300: Rise of an Empire
By Wilson Morales

300 Rise of an Empire poster 15a“Remember Us.” That was part of a quote uttered by David Wenham’s Dilios in Zack Snyder’s 2006 blockbuster film, ‘300.’ It was about paying tribute to the men who died in the battle against Xerses and the Persian Empire before he himself would continue the fight a year later.

With the main cast all but dead in the original, how does one make a follow-up? Given eight years to think, the producers have come up with ‘300: Rise of an Empire,’ where stories of the past and present are mixed in to coincide with the timeline of the original. Where the first ‘300’ was visually stunning, hypnotic, bloody, and yet enjoyable, this new take is only half of that; mainly brought on by the bravado performance of Eva Green.

As Snyder is back as a producer and co-writer, having given the directing duties to director Noam Murro (Smart People). Most of the cast from the original are gone, except for Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), Delios (David Wenham), Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro).

300: BATTLE OF ARTEMESIUMAdapted from Frank Miller’s graphic novel ‘Xerxes,’ this new take follows the story of Athenian general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton from the British TV series Strike Back), who’s responsible for the course of the war between the Greeks and the Persians. As a politician and soldier, he commands a great deal of power and his words carry a lot of weight when convincing others to fight the good fight. While he doesn’t utter the words “This is Sparta” to enlist an army, his showmanship on the battle fields is met with adoration.

300: BATTLE OF ARTEMESIUMWhen Queen Gorgo refused to aid Themistokles in uniting the Greeks after no one came to aid her fallen husband Leonidas, Themistokles has to take the battle to the sea where he believes his a tactical advantage. His early victories forces Xerxes to send out Artemisia (Eva Green), the vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

Eluding death after each battle seems to bring out mutual respect between Themistokles and Artemisia, but in the end, each knows that one has to fall for the other to move on.

300 Rise of an Empire banner 3A lot has changed since the original came out and one would think that the addition of 3D would enhance the visuals for this film but it really doesn’t. Except for a few scenes involving Xerxes, the film is more about how much blood and gore can be spilled and be talked about than the story itself of Athens and the Greeks fighting to preserve democracy. Gone is the charisma that was displayed by Gerard Butler’s Leonidas and his men. In Stapleton’s Themistokles, we see a man hellbent on winning the war without having any time to relax.

300: Rise of an EmpireWhile Stapleton and the other newcomers (Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell) do their best sword fighting over and over, the film is saved multiple times from boredom by the presence of Eva Green. As Artemisia, she is the heart and soul of the film. From her bloodthirsty revenge to her combat skills, Green steals every scene without going over the top. In particular battle sequence, the costume, designed by Alexandra Byrne, is just a showstopper.

Other aspects of the film that works are the flashbacks of some of the characters. The films needed to show substance to go along with the slow motion fight sequences and bare-chested nameless actors.

In the end, ‘Rise of an Empire’ holds up on the strength of Green. Fanboys of the original will be eat this up and hope, if this film is financially successful, that producers can come up with a way to make a film where Artemisia and Leonidas met in the past.

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