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Review: Familiar problems plague the '300' in sequel

300: The Rise of an Empire seeks to be a film about honor, duty and recognize the courage of those willing to die in the name of such attributes along with fighting for one’s country.

Eva Green stars as Artemisia in "300: Rise of an Empire."
Eva Green stars as Artemisia in "300: Rise of an Empire."
Warner Bros.

And there’s a little of that - emphasis on little in this film that opens Friday (March 7).

Though many will view it as such, it’s less a sequel and more an examination of things happening simultaneously with events of the film 300.

That surprise hit, which used stunning visuals, launched the career of Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) immediately making him a Hollywood darling.

Whether it does the same for director Noam Murro remains to be seen, but he certainly shows the visual flair that fans of these films might expect.

As for the story, it’s thin. Rise of an Empire is more a film for those fans of sword and sand epics who couldn’t get enough of the gore-filled battle scenes in the pay-TV series Spartacus, which enjoyed four gory season on Starz.

The vast difference: it doesn’t possess much of the nobility and attachment to characters that show did. But the violence? Though painted less in reds than a muted shade of that crimson tone, the impalings, disembodiments and beheadings remain in abundance.

With Leonidas (Gerard Butler) off fighting and losing to the Persians, the loosely allied Greek city states seek revenge on its god king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his kingdom.

The provide ships to Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) for him to engage the Persian navy led by Artemisia, a woman of Greek descent who would like nothing more than revenge on her own people for the tragedy and indignities visited upon her and her family.

Like any person, she longs for someone to be by her side. Unfortunately for her she believes that to be her enemy Themistokles. Their battles on the Aegean Sea are little more than foreplay for the two of them, but the reality is the pairing is doomed.

The movie may not suffer the same fate, but Empire doesn’t rise to the occasion.

While Green is generally interesting in what she does, she possesses but one emotion throughout the film – rage. And Stapleton, most recognizable from the Cinemax series Strike Back, comes up short in the charisma department.

Movie: 300: Rise of an Empire
Director: Noam Murro
Cast: Sullivan Stapelton, Eva Green
Studio: Warner Bros.
Rated: R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language.
Running time: 102 minutes
George’s rating: 2.5-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com