300: Rise Of An Empire – Review

Director: Noam Murro
Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Callan Mulvey
Release Date (US): 7th March, 2014
Company: Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures

300: Rise Of An Empire - Pic A

“Let it be shown, we chose to die on our feet, rather than live on our knees!” – Themistocles

Zack Snyder’s stylish adaptation of Frank Milller’s celebrated graphic novel went down as a huge cult hit. Directing its unlikely sequel is Noam Murro (Smart People), who’ll be hoping to emulate the intense action, stylish visuals and oft-ludircrous dialogue that made the first 300 movie so good. Intertwining with the events from the Battle Of Thermopylae, the film focuses on an Athenian general named Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton, Animal Kingdom), and his attempts to defend Greece from a full-scale Persian invasion.

The Story

The writing is of the standard one would expect for the sequel to 300 – but there are a few interesting plot lines to be found here. The movie masterfully weaves in and out of the events of the first film, expanding on the tale told, and offering further insight into characters like the god-king, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro, Lost). Snyder and Kurt Johnstad (Act Of Valor) haven’t put together an Oscar-winning script, but it still entertains.

The most exciting elements of the movie are the inclusions of both Sparta and Persia. Indeed, Eva Green (Casino Royale)’s Persian general, Artemesia, is one of the better written female blockbuster characters this year. Where it fails, however, is in its central plot, which is ultimately a re-enactment of the first movie (albeit with different characters) that never quite reaches its explosive heights, but still suffers from the same pit-falls.

The Acting

300: Rise Of An Empire - Pic B

“You are king because of me! Now sit back on your throne and rule with the safety I provide you.” – Artemisia

Stapleton’s Themistocles lacks both the physicality and the dialogue of Gerard Butler’s King Leonidas, and the movie suffers as a result of this. In much the same way, his fellow Athenians end up appearing like watered down versions of the Spartan soldiers. Jack O’Connell (Unbroken) and Callan Mulvey (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) may be rising stars, but they lack the talent and charisma of a Michael Fassbender.

Eva Green’s Artemesia is undoubtedly the true star of the show. Her inclusion adds the only well-rounded character, as well as a much-needed female presence in amidst the sea of testosterone. Intelligent, deadly and manipulative, she makes for a worthy adversary. Xerxes’ inclusion is also welcome here – as are a few other returning characters from the first movie, all of whom help to explore and expand the 300 mythos.

Direction & Tone

Coming off the back of Zack Snyder, Noah Murro was always presented with a lofty task. Given his lack of experience in blockbuster action affairs, many expected him to fail completely. That is certainly not the case here, and while a lot of his work was clearly based off Snyder’s unique visual style, Murro handled his sophomore directorial attempt well, delivering an entertaining action-romp that ends up being a worthy successor.

Stray Observations

  • When I first heard they were making a sequel to 300, I couldn’t quite believe it. “Madness”, I called it…
  • I feel obliged to let you all no that this film contains absolutely no historical accuracy whatsoever. It’s about as reliable as my alarm clock.
  • I now also feel obliged to tell you that I don’t often arrive in time for Uni… In order for the above witticism to make any sense…
  • This is the epitome of a ‘guilty pleasure’. Like The Joker says, it’s “just too much fun…”
  • Without spoiling anything, the ending to this movie may well be one of my favourite cinematic sequences of the year. The tension, the acting, the music… it’s truly something special…

The Verdict

The sequel to the hugely popular 2007 cult hit may not have quite as much style or quality in depth as its predecessor, but director Noam Murro still injects a similar tone and entertainment levels, buoyed by a standout performance from Eva Green.

3.5 Stars

Result: “Good”

About Minty

Here for a long time, not a good time.
This entry was posted in 2014, Action, Fantasy, Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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