The wildly successful '300' (2006) finally gets a sequel, that has quite a bit more than the original. After almost eight years, '300: Rise of An Empire' has come to theaters and is equally, if not more, impressive than the first. It took in $132 million over the weekend worldwide and claimed the top box office spot. Although most of the reviews are unimpressed or worse for this movie, I felt quite the opposite. This movie has a bit of it all, action, intrigue, drama and a lot more blood (if that is possible).
Little known director Noam Murro took the reins from original director Zack Snyder. Snyder took Frank Miller’s graphic novel and exploded it on screen. This movie proceeds the yet to be released title by Miller, although gives audiences a glimpse of what they might expect. ‘300’ was a stepping stone for many involved including writers and star, Gerard Butler, who went on to bigger things. ‘Rise of An Empire’ has received very little critical appeal, despite the large grossing box office numbers, and most appear to think little with come from those who star or worked with this movie. I felt impressed with the scope and quality of this movie as well as the captivating often over the top performances. Although, often critical reviews rarely tell the story of the common movie audience and this might more than evident with this movie.
‘Rise of An Empire’ tells the story of Persian female naval genius Artemisia, played by Eva Green, who appears to have a stronger bloodlust then any of the men in story. Audiences are taken through her story, as to what made her the strong, brash, driven warrior she is throughout the movie. Green has a striking ability to command attention and audiences can completely buy into her on screen powerhouse persona.
Artemisia was sent by Persian god-king, as she dubs him, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) to conquer Greece and avenge the death of his father, Darius, at the hands of the soldier Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton). Themistokles is a powerful, larger than life warrior and the only capable opponent to Artemisia. Stapleton attempts to hold his own in this strangely female driven action movie. He commands the screen and his army as they try to withhold the oncoming, very powerful Persian navy. Like most of the best stories, the smaller, lesser army must find a way to survive and squash the gigantic, monster against very unlikely odds.
Themistokles seeks the help of the Spartan Queen, Lena Headey, hoping for a united Greece, knowing that will be how the Persian army is defeated or at least subdued. This movie seems to run parallel with its predecessor, ‘300’ and when the Queen will hear of the defeat of the 300 will hear nothing of the unity. He is left to take on the Persian army alone, simply hoping for additional support or maybe a miracle.
‘Rise of An Empire’ is filled with sweeping action sequences and gory violence. This is certainly not family friendly, but for an action packed, graphic novel on screen, blood thirty movie, it more than delivers. Females get into the action in true warrior status, rivaling the power of their male counterparts. Although bloody and violent, it is intriguing to see such strong willed and driven women characters portrayed in such a testosterone typically driven movie, yet the males equally get their butt kicking time on screen. Despite the speculation and less than savory critical reviews, fans of the original should enjoy this perfect Spring Break movie.