Coming to theatres this Friday from director Noam Murro and Legendary Pictures comes the next battle for the 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE.
This film tells the story of Admiral Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and his army. Several years before Leonidas, Themistokles had come into contact with a young Xerxes shooting an arrow into his father King Darius. Not ending the cruel line has now come back to haunt him.
Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is marching towards the Greek cities with the intent to destroy everything in his path. Along with the god-king is Artemisia (Eva Green), Xerxes naval commander who has a thirst for destruction unmatched by even Xerxes himself.
With the battle at sea Themistokles and Artemisia watch each other learning tactics. By the third battle the Greeks are smacked down. To make things worse the Greeks learn of the Leonidas and his 300.
Now Themistokles turns to Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey). Still grieving at the loss of her king husband, he asks for ships to help him squash their enemy. Now, the battle to the finish is aimed at Artemisia with Xerxes watching from the hillside.
One thing is still clear – a free Greek is something to be feared!
FINAL WORD: Stapleton as Themistokles (wow that’s a keystroke full) does a fine job at being the leader here. Granted he is no Leonidas and shouldn’t be compared to the amazing King of Sparta but there is a part of me that does. Totally my fault I’m sure. There are moments of intensity but there was something missing from this character to connect with. Good leader and strategist – yes; good fighter – absofrakkenlootely and that seems to be what’s most important.
Santoro as Xerxes gets a chance to tell his story. Fans will get to see what this crazy god-king looked like before the dip in the creepy pool. He still has the amazing deep voice and puffed up megalomaniac size with a stare that could freeze anybody in there tracks. That being said can we get the next installment where he gets put in his place? Has to be said that no matter what else – Santoro has made the character of Xerxes his very own.
Green as Artemisia is a sadistic misunderstood goth-girl with a growling deep voice. Taking credit for creating Xerxes (not something I personally would be proud of but hey, to each his own) she wields a sword like a warrior, shoots arrows with ease and tries seduction when all other battle tactics fail. From her roles in KINGDOM OF HEAVEN as Sibylla and THE GOLDEN COMPASS as Serafina Pekkala to DARK SHADOWS as Angelique Bouchard might I say this – lay off the growling deep voice for a while. I look forward to a role where I can actually not have to spend the extra seconds deciphering what she’s saying.
It was good to see Headey return as Queen Gorga (but I did crack up when she said Leonidas as “in a meeting”) and David Wenham returns pre and post eye patch.
Other cast include: Hans Matheson as Aesyklos, Callan Mulvey as Scyllias, Igal Naor as King Darius, Andrew Pleavin as Daxos, Ben Turner as General Artaphernes, Ashraf Barhom as General Bandari, Christopher Sciueref as General Kashani and David Wenham as Dilios.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. The film is exactly what you would expect and no more yet no less. The slow-mo sequences are a little overplayed but there are those that welcome it. The acting isn’t necessarily stellar but it is effective.
Now that the she-devil is out of the picture I’m thinking a third 300 is not far away because we can’t leave that little rascal Xerxes out roaming the Greek countryside! There are a few issues I have such as the horse scene – really? Really? I understand this is a film but lets not get crazy with the imagination stuff.
Am I picky? Absolutely! Like Artemisia I see the potential for a victory here without slamming Generals around the ships stateroom (you’llllllll seeeeeeeee!). The original 300 took audiences by storm with amazing effects, intense storyline and – lets face it – some handsome rock hard bodies.
Not so much this time. Granted they are Spartans but I did expect a little more. I also could have done without the father-son thing because lets face it – been there done that. Don’t go backwards Mr. Snyder – ever forward please!
All that being said the cgi was amazing, the story melded well with the original 300 giving a few moments of homage to Gerard Butler’s Leonidas before the ax fell. The ship scenes were intense and the 3D was amazing in certain scenes – check out Xerxes on the cliff and you’ll say ‘whoa!’ too.
In the end – they will fight to remain free!