It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While that may be true, it is not necessarily a good thing, especially when it comes to the art of filmmaking. Take director Noam Murro for example. He had some big shoes to fill when he agreed to direct "300: Rise of an Empire" after Zack Snyder put his unique fingerprint on the original which went on to become a big hit. However, instead of trying to make this movie his own, Murro decided to make it how Snyder would do it.
You can't call "300: Rise of an Empire" a sequel exactly. Nor would you call it a prequel. The story is a follow up to the events that took place in "300". The movie also shows, in detail, how Xerxes became the god-king as well as the events that led him to invade Greece. However, the bulk of this story unfolds while the events of the first movie are also taking place, except these battles take place at sea.
One aspect that worked so well in the original "300" was the style in which it was filmed. As the battles took place, Zack Snyder would rapidly switch between fast to normal to slow motion shots. The camera would not sit still either and the cinematography would almost spin around the action 360 degrees to bring the audience into the scene. A lot of blood and gore was sprinkled in for good measure.
Noam Murro does try his own thing in “300: Rise of an Empire” yet for the most part, he tries to make the movie in the exact same manner that Zack Snyder used. It’s understandable why he would want to copy and maybe he got his marching orders from a studio head, but unless the action is just as captivating as it was in the first movie, and it’s not, then all you are going to get recognized for is being a copycat. The action here pales in comparison to the original movie.
Speaking of pale, something that was of Murro’s own making was deciding to use a grey filter on the camera because the movie suffers from that color throughout. Maybe he was trying to show that these were “dark times,” but the only thing he accomplishes is making it harder for the audience to clearly see what is going on. Wearing dark 3D glasses makes matters worse. The 3D effects are not bad in “300: Rise of an Empire,” but they are far from outstanding. With the exception of a few shots, the IMAX experience is not memorable either. Whenever someone is killed animated blood sprays all around. It’s in 3D, but the blood is so clearly animated that it is laughable. Again, they tried to replicate something that worked so well in the first movie; but it doesn’t work here.
The best thing “300: Rise of an Empire” has going for it is Eva Green who plays Artemisia, commander of Xerxes’ navy. Yes, she looks so amazingly beautiful in this movie, it is difficult to ever take your eyes off her. However, it is her character’s focus, confidence, presence and madness that make her so compelling. Eva Green is unapologetic in all her actions and the same can be said about her acting. She also has the best line in the whole movie during the climax. She clearly possesses all the tools to become a major star in this business and it is only a matter if time before she becomes one.
Does anyone know Greek history? Were they all known to yell all the time? Because it feels like every other sentence in this movie is similar to the “Prepare to dine in Hell” speech from the first movie. It becomes tiring after a while. There is also too much narrating and explaining done, another failed repeat of the original “300.” However, some of the battles have an entertainment value attached to them. You won’t feel like you got ripped off after seeing “300: Rise of an Empire.” That is not a great ringing endorsement of the movie, but that’s the best it is going to get. It is rated R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language.