In 2006 Frank Miller’s epic graphic novel was brought to unreal life from director Zack Snyder. The film was like nothing anyone had seen at the time and not only blew everyone’s minds, but thrust leading man Gerard Butler to stardom. There were talks for a long time about a sequel, but it just never seemed like it would ever happen. Now finally the story continues with the long anticipated follow-up 300: Rise of an Empire. With Zack Snyder not in the director’s chair this time around can it capture the same magic as the first film?
300: Rise of an Empire follows Persian Army, after its victory over Leonidas' 300, Xerxes marches towards the major Greek city-states. The Democratic city of Athens, bases its strength on its fleet, led by Admiral Themistocles who is forced to an unwilling alliance with the traditional rival of Athens, oligarchic Sparta whose might lies with its superior infantry troops, but Xerxes still reigns supreme in numbers over sea and land. Most of the times with these sorts of films they push for a sequel or a prequel, but with this film it plays as both as well as runs parallel to the first movie making for a great companion piece and continuing the story. Despite the lack of Snyder at the helm it does a great job visually to make it match the established universe and even connects everything together bringing back some of the cast from the first film including Lena Headey and Rodrigo Santoro. There is plenty of action as expected and they seemed to step up the level of bloodletting this time around which you wouldn’t think would have been possible.
Most of the cast are fine, but just don’t pack the punch of Leonidas and his Spartans. The most standout of the entire film was surprisingly Eva Green who is so over the top at times it shouldn’t work but the level of crazy she brings to life is a blast to watch. The story works surprisingly well and is always a huge gamble when trying to do so much, but they managed to pull it together cleverly. With the first film they established some more fantastical creatures and characters that are noticeably absent this time around which is somewhat of a disappointment as it helped it to add more to what they were up against. In addition this time around the war never felt as dire as it did in the first film but instead more like just another war. This is mostly due to the characters this time around are just those doing their duty as opposed to the Spartans acting on their lineage as warriors willing to die for their people.
The first film didn’t need a sequel and this one will surely be met with mixed results. Anytime a follow up is done to a successful film people will instantly compare the two and more often than not judge it as the previous film as opposed to letting it stand on its own. This film doesn’t pack the punch of the original but still manages to entertain and bridge a great gap into the other battles going on as well as origins and the follow up to the fall of the 300. While the first film had a subtle possibility of a sequel, this film is clearly left wide open to continue on with more films if this one is successful so only time will tell if the masses are interested in returning to the battle field.
Join the battle and get your copy of 300: Rise of an Empire on Blu-ray and loaded with special features when it hits stores on June 24th.