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Movie Review: 300 Rise of an Empire: The good, the bad, and the ugly

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300 Rise of an Empire

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In modern film making, it’s a rarity that there is a successful follow-up to a great film. There have been countless, futile attempts at the task, with only marginal success. It happens far too often whereas the successor to the great standalone film turns out to only a shell of what made the first film great. There are a number of examples such as 30 Days of Night then 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, Escape From New York then Escape From L.A., and Gremils then Gremlins 2. Each one of these films really good standalone films that were followed by an abysmal sequel which only tarnished the original.
The latest movie to undertake such a task in attempting to recapture the magic of a standalone film into a franchise is 300 Rise of an Empire. After nearly a decade, the creators of the visionary movie 300 have finally decided to continue the story of the Leonitis and his doomed legion of the 300 Spartans who attempted to stand against the conquering legions of the Persians led by the God King, Xersus. The new movie, 300 Rise of an Empire debuted last Friday. The movie stars Sullivan Stapleton (Gangsta Squad), Eva Green (Dark Shadows), Lean Headley (Dredd), Hans Matheson (Clash of the Titans), and Rodrigo Santoro (300).
300 rise of an empire is the visceral, visual extravaganza that is the long awaited sequel to the groundbreaking film that became an instant cult phenomenon. This new addition seeks to further the story and capitalize on the foundation that the first one created. I’m sad to say that it fails.
“Rise” can best be described as the good, the bad, and the ugly. It isn’t all bad. THE GOOD, the film is has a number of good points. The creators of the “rise” do a great job and establishing continuity between the two films. This particular aspect is well written. This film feels like it’s an extension of the first one despite the number of years that have elapsed between the two movies. The two movies are interwoven extremely well so that this film feels like a genuine continuation of the first film. The first third of “Rise” occurs concurrently with the beginning of the first movie. Much of this movie is happening almost simultaneously as the first 300 movie. In addition, it returns a number of key characters from 300 and then it also filters a number of scenes that fans of the first film will recognize. For example, Themistokles visits Queen Gorgo in Sparta, as Leonitis were on the mountain seeking guidance from the Oracle.
“Rise” also does well to showcase the origin of Xeres. It really delves into his origin. This is one of the best aspects of the film. It does a terrific job at giving us the reasons behind his thirst for the conquest of the Spartans. Xerxes story is very intriguing and fans will enjoy it. Xeres is severely underused as he still has limited screen time. The film would have been served better to give him more since he was easily one of the best characters of the movie. Themistokles isn’t as interesting of a character as Leonitis was. He and his legion of soldiers have their moments but Sullivan Stapleton doesn’t possess the screen presence that Gerald Butler has nor is his legion as captivating as the heroic Spartans. Eva Green as Artemisia is easily the best character in the movie. She is captivating in every moment she ppears on screen. she makes a great villain in her limited appearance but the shortcomings of the story really limit her from making the most of the character. She does and will most likely develop a great cult following for the character. “Rise” simply does not do their confrontation justice.
THE BAD, the effects are as good as the original if not better than the first film in a number of ways. It immediately returns the audience to the stunning visual world that the first film created. This new one is no different as the effects are first rate. The usage of the however is the biggest issue. In the years since the first film, there have been a number of films and television shows to showcase this same type of imagery and “Rise” doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from what has now become commonplace in these types of films.
THE UGLY, the biggest downfall of “Rise” is that it really offers nothing new. Whereas the first film was breathtaking visually and the story was fresh and very original, “Rise” is just the regurgitation of the original. It’s just more of the David against goliath type of situation as the Greek Navy is vastly outnumbered by the Persian Navy. The biggest change is the quality of the combat and its location. The change isn’t a plus for the story. The battles aren’t as intriguing as the when the Spartans were bravely defeating the hordes of Persians. Next, they simply replace the test of will between Leonits and Xersus for the same type of situation between Themistokles and Artemesia Too many details of the film are simply tailored to fit this one giving it a copycat feel. Finally, the film offers no resolution to the story of the first one. It minimalizes the heroic sacrifice of the 300 Spartans.
300 Rise of An Empire is more of a disappointment than anything. It had potential but falls epically short of that potential. If you’re a devout fan of the first then you will be disappointed but will managed to find some level of enjoyment from this one. If you’re not then I would suggest you wait as this will do nothing but frustrate you.

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