It is a hard battle to create a sequel that rivals its predecessor. But Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ ‘300: Rise of an Empire’ has accomplished this feat.
The story is written by Deborah Snyder who reteamed with Kurt Johnstad, his writing partner from ‘300.’ The story is a creative tale that expertly weaves itself into the original fabric of the highly successful motion picture ‘300’ about Sparta’s King Leonidas and his 300 brothers-in-arms which debuted on screen in 2006. In fact, it is so well told in flashbacks that unite the new storyline, one hardly believes it has been eight years since we've viewed these mighty warriors in battle.
And if you happen to miss the first film, you will not be lost. Director Noam Murro provides a seamless story for viewers. He says, ‘The idea was to create a second story within the architecture of the first film.’ ‘Thematically, it is in a similar historical context, so it intersects with ‘300,’ while coming from a different perspective that is just as engaging.’ The story is more than testosterone and chiseled abs; it is electrifying.
‘300: Rise of an Empire’ 300,' is a new chapter of the epic saga, which takes the action to a new battlefield—the sea. The story pits the Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) against the massive invading Persian forces, ruled by the mortal-turned-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and led by Artemisia (Eva Green), the vengeful commander of the Persian navy.
Knowing his only hope of defeating the overwhelming Persian armada will be to unite all of Greece; Themistokles ultimately leads the charge that will change the course of the war. The men are readied for battle with the war cry, ‘For glory’s sake. For vengeance sake. WAR!’ The rallying call to war ignites a fuse whereby men who are outnumbered are willing to take on an enemy of vast proportions.
The action adventure stars Sullivan Stapleton (‘Gangster Squad’) as Themistokles and Eva Green (‘Dark Shadows,’ ‘Casino Royale’) as Artemisia. Reprising their roles from '300,' Lena Headey stars as the Spartan Queen, Gorgo; David Wenham appears as Dilios; Andrew Tiernan plays Ephialtes; Andrew Pleavin play Daxos; and Rodrigo Santoro returns in the role of the Persian God-King, Xerxes.
Usually in a film of this magnitude, the acting is sacrificed for special effects (VFX). Yet, Murro and his team have managed to avoid this pitfall. His impressive army of actors delivers engaging performances alongside the VFX in the film, creating visceral and spectacular scenes. They effortlessly deliver lines that plunge you into their riveting world. For example, general Themistokles delivers a galvanizing speech, ‘Let it be shown, we chose to die on our feet rather than live on our knees.’ that will have you pledging your undying loyalty to the Greek army.
In addition to the titillating and electrifying story, the VFX team controlled the weather, generating the atmospheric effects that helped set the tone for each scene. For example, the water, which is constantly in motion, is realistic as it courses like the copious waves of blood coursing in battle that flow ever so freely. The film is being released in 3D and 2D in select theaters and IMAX.
The final element setting the tone for '300: Rise of an Empire' is the music, written by the artist known as Junkie XL. Junkie XL is Tom Holkenborg, a Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum producer and composer. It is indeed one of the highlights of the film that adds to the esthetic effect. Director Murro recalls his reaction to Junkie XL’s music in the film, ‘…there is an interesting mixture in his music. There is modernity and there is action and there is compassion and there is drama. I think it embodies the language of this film, which looks back and also looks forward.”
‘300: Rise of an Empire’ invokes all the sentiments for war and glory of the legendary Greek warrior. It is hard to believe that this motion picture is a sequel since it firmly stands on its own footing. The film is sure to be as renowned as its predecessor. It opens nationwide March 6, 2014. It is rated R by the MPAA for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language.