300: Rise of an Empire

Rated: R

        Back in 2006 when the movie 300 came out it became one of my favorites instantly. Fresh off the success of Sin City (another one of my favorites), Frank Miller released 300 as a visually stunning film done in the style of his graphic novel. Unlike Sin City though, 300 was based on a true story. I remember the Discovery Channel and the History Channel doing specials on the “true story of the 300”, which were longer than the movie itself. I just happened to catch these specials after I’d seen 300 in theaters and was amazed that such a thing really happened. I know that it was “dressed up” a little bit for entertainment’s sake, but I thought it was an awesome movie none the less and was surprised at just how much of the film was historically accurate (well, as accurate as something that happened in 480 BC can be at this point). And so when I saw that there was to be a sequel I knew I had to see it. I guess some of it was curiosity on my part, since almost all of the characters in 300 died by the end of the movie. Who was left to make a sequel (character wise)? But it was clear from the previews that Rise of an Empire was to be just as visually stunning and action packed as the first one, and so when it came out on Blu Ray I rushed to the store to buy it.
300: Rise of an Empire is set in the same year as the original film, 480 BC. In September of that year, after regrouping from the loss at Thermopylae, Themistocles, an Athenian general, rallies Greece to the sea for the Battle of Salamis in hopes of defeating Xerxes and his general Artemisia once and for all.
        As you well know, it’s almost impossible these days to find consensus among movie goers, and it’s not much different as far as we film critics are concerned either. In doing my research for this piece I was able to find a little bit though. Everyone seemed to agree that this was an action filled and visually beautiful movie. Everyone also seemed to agree that Eva Green was the shining star, and perhaps the only saving grace. The other thing they all seemed to agree on was that this movie doesn’t really hold a candle to its older sibling,
300. As you also know I’m not usually one to agree with what others (the public or critics) think, but in this case I do. The information I found on Wikipedia about the Battle of Salamis, although not as nice to look at, was much more entertaining (not to mention that there was just as much action!)
        Perhaps this is just another case of “the curse of the sequel” rearing its ugly (and all too familiar head). I would think that at this point in time movie makers would’ve figured out that a sequel needs to be
at least as good, if not better, than the first one, but I guess not. As movie lovers you win some, you lose some, and in this case we lost. Best to get up, dust ourselves off and walk away; never looking back for a second glance at this one!

300: Rise of an Empire is rated R, was written by Zach Snyder and Frank Miller, directed by Noam Murrow and stars Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Leda Heady and Rodrigo Santoro. It’s available now on Blu Ray, DVD and digital download.