300: Rise of an Empire – ‘300’ SUPER-SIZED! (Movie Review)

300 Rise of Empire TNThinking about this today, it’s been way too long hasn’t it?  I’m talking about of course the amount of time that has passed since 2007 when Warner Bros. brought Roman soldiers with unbelievably chiseled pecs and abs into our living rooms on our early adoption HDTV sets during the Red vs. Blu Wars (HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray).  Can you believe it has been that long and for that matter has taken this long to get a sequel out to the wildly insane, testosterone driven 300? I still remember my first theatrical viewing of that feature.  It was quite a visual spectacle to behold and take in.  It was like the raw pages of Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same name just magically came to life on the big screen.  Were those chiseled bodies real or CG?  Hell no!  Gerald Butler and the rest of the gang went through some rigorous training to achieve those astonishing physiques.  Now it wasn’t all about the awe, shock and gratuitous violence/sex, it was actually a quite entertaining and solid movie that took us on an incredible journey and did not let go of us leaving us thirsty for even more blood and vengeance by the time the credits rolled.  After all, our king, as mighty as he was, had fallen.   Vengeance was an instant mandate.  And now the time is upon us!  Ladies and gentlemen…I proudly introduce to you 300: Rise of an Empire.

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So needless to say, 2007’s 300 inspired a lot of projects over the years from spoofs and knockoffs to even hardcore television series like the crowd pleaser Spartacus: Blood and Sand.  This sequel, “so to speak,” takes place before, during and after the events of the original film, hence why I said so to speak.  However, this time around Noam Murro mans the director’s chair while Zack Snyder serves as a writer and a producer because he has been awful busy pulling rabbits out of his butt to make magic with his second Superman outing hopefully landing a few years away.  It’s scary to think, but the fate of the Justice League is in his hands.  Gulp. I digress.

This time around the cast includes Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Callan Mulvey, Hans Matheson and Jack O’Connell with Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro and David Wenham, reprising their roles from the first film.  The cool thing about this release though is the fact that it’s not only slated for 3D, but also IMAX 3D.  I can usually do without the 3D, but when you combine it with IMAX…now you’re talking!  And when you are talking about the highly stylized world and visuals of the 300 franchise, you kind of already know walking in things are going to look EPIC.  There I said it!  EPIC!

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As originally intended throughout rumors over the years, 300: Rise of an Empire covers some of the backstory of Xerxes (Santoro), and how he became the God King we see him as in the first feature, 300.  However, this film is mostly centered on the Greek leader Themistokles (Stapleton), who we will talk about in more detail down below versus that of the beauty, brawn and wits of Artemisia (Green), Achaemenid Queen of Caria and King Xerxes’ ally.  She’s the new kid on the block worth taking note of here.  She’s quite a commanding gal, but like Themistokles, we’ll talk about that more in a minute.  The graphic novel on which this is supposedly based is unpublished.  Go figure!

So I like what they have done here.  This is definitely a sequel, but it’s so much, much more.  First we take a look at how the God King came to be, not to mention the aftermath of the fallen 300 Spartan soldiers and of course, Queen Gorgo (Headey) of Sparta’s contempt and wishes of vengeance upon that of Persia and its armies that ultimately laid waste to her husband, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler).  And let’s not forget being treated to a little backstory on Themistocles during the Battle of Marathon, from the first Persian invasion of Greece, and and that of Artemisia.  After all, you do want to know how Eva Green’s character became such a sword wielding bad-a$$, don’t you?  Hell yeah!  But wait!  300: Rise of an Empire is even more than that.  In addition to everything I just said up above and to put it in the simplest of terms like my girlfriend just muttered to me before falling asleep tonight, it’s a palette pleaser.  It’s an orgy of carnal pleasure, gore, violence, testosterone set amongst epic grand scale proportions like we are accustomed to from the first film, but on muscle-building steroids and SUPER-SIZED!

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They say bigger is not always better, but it sure doesn’t hurt here.  Forget the 300 soldiers in a confined mountain landscape for a moment and think of that heroic action on much larger playing field, even across seas of endless blue, washed with crimson (blood).  That’s what you get with 300: Rise of an Empire.  They up the ante here.  The battles are bigger.  The scope is grander.  there are big naval battles!  And by golly, while it’s not as iconic and masterful as the first film, it’s still epic in its own right with a thunderous score to boost and one menacing performance by Eva Green that shocked the white Parma, OH socks off of me.  She rocked that role like she was born for it and I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Perhaps the only thing that was missing here was the charm and charisma of Gerard Butler that made the first film such a rousing, masculine treat to both women, men and children alike.  I did not feel the intensity in Headey.  I thought she could have brought it more, but Green….wow.  From the moment she walked on the screen she exhumed a level of confidence that just screamed keep your eyes on me…THE WHOLE TIME.  And boy, did I!  And I can’t single out Eva without talking about Stapleton either.  He did his best in the Braveheart moments when his soldiers needed words of encouragement and you could feel his generosity and caring for his men and the passion that propelled him to lay waste to every Persian that was unlucky enough to be around his sword, spear or even arrow’s trajectory path.  I went on a journey with him and I came out feeling victorious.

The film lingers on the Battle of Artemisium, which is a naval engagement, concurrent with the battle of Thermopylae previously seen in 300.  Here we really see Stapleton and Green really go at it as their characters are put to the ultimate tests as wits and brains are tested against muscles and courage.  It’s a battle of who can outsmart who, but I assure you that you definitely need to be smarter than a 5th grader to beat either one of them.  Finally after the film catches up with the aftermath of the first film we are treated to one hell of another grand naval battle, this one dubbed the Battle of Salamis, fought after the Persian Empire occupied Athens.  So lesson learned here.  How do you top the insane action of the first film?  Why of course…you move that insane action onto the open waters!  Will the Spartans relinquish their stubborn pride and join forces with the remaining Greek forces?  Will Queen Gorgo get revenge for her husband’s death?  Will Themistocles and Artemisia go at it in more ways than one?  These questions and more, rest assured, will all be answered.  All you got to do is show up.  Your job is simple.  And if you can, may I perhaps recommend a 3D IMAX screening of this one?  The depth of field is amazing!  Oh shut up!  Just take my money.  You had me at hello here.  Long live Sparta and King Leonidas!!!  Until the Blu-ray…

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

1 Response to “300: Rise of an Empire – ‘300’ SUPER-SIZED! (Movie Review)”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    Just saw this and it was EPIC! The Blu-ray will be phenomenal!