300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
After its victory over Leonidas’ 300, the Persian Army under the command of Xerxes marches towards the major Greek city-states. The Democratic city of Athens, first on the path of Xerxes’ army, bases its strength on its fleet, led by admiral Themistocles. Themistocles 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.
Genre : Action/Drama
Country : USA
Eva Green : Artemisia
Sullivan Stapleton : Themistocles
Lena Headey : Gorgo
“If death comes, I’m ready!”
“300” which came out in 2007, was a groundbreaking revelation. Not so much in terms of content, but in terms of the visualization of the heroic battles that 300 Greeks fought, in the battle of Thermopylae led by King Leonidas. The slow motion chopping spectacle with blood splattering all over the place,is still burned into my memory. A breathtaking movie.
“300: Rise of an Empire” is not a prequel or sequel. It’s an epic drama that encompasses the story of “300“. Does it add value? Can it outpace “300” in terms of violence and bloodshed? Is the heroism in this film raised to a higher level? Are all your nerves strained to the limit when viewing this Greek tragedy? Bwah, not really. To be honest I was quite disappointed, annoyed and disinterested after a while. An easy duplicate of the original film in which the artifices and tricks are recycled. I’m convinced that the chair of history fanatics and historians will have some wet spots after seeing this movie. My chair was as dry as an old souvlaki.
However it begins in a strong way with the surprise attack of the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon. A spectacle of Greek violence with bare torsos, so you can admire swollen muscles and six-packs. Fierce brandishing sharp swords in slow motion which cause gaping wounds and limbs being amputated. Spears pierce chests and skulls are split. And this together with gushes of blood. But haven’t we seen this kind of images already in “300“? Yep ! So it can’t overmarch the original movie in terms of violence and bloodshed. In fact, you could feel the adrenaline increasing during the fight scenes in “300” even harder. The testosterone level was several dashes higher.
It’s in this battle at Marathon that commander Themistocles kills the Persian king Darius with a phenomenal well aimed shot. After the death of his father Xerxes (son of Darius) is advised not to start a war against the Greeks, since only the gods can defeat them. Naval Commander Artemisia, sees a challenge in these words and sends Xerxes into the desert to return as a god after he has dipped in gold luminous water in some cave. That was the part with a bit of Greek mythology. Xerxes looked more like a member of the “Village People” afterwards and ended up playing only a secondary role. The lion’s share of attention was claimed by Artimisia. Xerxes largest share was declaring war with the Greeks afterwards.
Meanwhile Themistocles can convince the board of Athene to give him a fleet so that he can stop the Persians. He asks the archrival Sparta to assist him in this mission, but he refuses. After this, the battle focuses on the battle in the streets of Artemisium. The Battle of Thermopylae is of less importance in this film and is only shown with a few clips from the first movie. Ultimately, the focus in this film is on the cruel actions of Artemisia and the attempt of Themistocles to form an united Greece and thus to go to battle against the Persians.
Sullivan Stapleton is not such an impressive figure as King Leonidas played by Gerard Butler. During the battles, it’s a formidable opponent and next to that he shows his talent as a charismatic orator. Butler was a fearsome leader who shouted his men into battle with snappy one-liners. Artemisia on the other hand is an intriguing character which was played in a proper manner by Eva Green. A spirited cruel captain who originally was Greek, but during her childhood witnessed the atrocities that were committed against her family by the Greeks themselves. She was taken as a slave, and left for dead. She was adopted by the Persians who taught her martial arts. She makes good use of this and shows no mercy. She hates the Greeks and the only thing important in her life is to kill as many as possible. The moment she beheads a Greek prisoner and gives it an intimate kiss, after which she throws it in the sea, is pretty impressive. In contrast, the amorous and erotic affair she has afterwards with Themistocles, which she uses to get him on the side of the Persians, was laughable and hilarious. It was more like a wrestling match.
Just like the original movie “300“, this one is a spectacle and you will be treated with some violent and bloody film clips. In “300” the fighting took place in a narrow pass. In this movie most battles take place at sea with a huge drifting fleet of the Persians and a tiny fleet of the Greeks. The Greece’s fleet looked more like a squadron of floating cigar boxes. The battle scenes are again impressive and flashy. A forward-moving human killing machine that destroys every intersecting opponent. Gallons of blood flows again. The choreography is beautifully worked out during the fighting and slow-motion pictures match the original film.
And that’s precisely where the shoe pinches. It’s a film with entertainment from the top shelf, but it’s actually an ordinary remake of the first film. But with the emphasis on the immense battle at sea. For me, no gain. There was only one thing that started to bother me after a while. There isn’t a single scene in this whole movie, or something is floating around : sparks emanating from burning fires, dust particles that fly between sweaty bodies, small particles of shaft whirl through the image, also something like fireflies and drops of blood. At one point I was paying more attention to this than the actual movie. The battle with an awful lot of boats floating around wasn’t very convincing. And it was also clear to see that they were computer images. And certainly when the horse came up. That really looked bad. And after a while I got sick and tired of the computerized streams of blood.
All in all a pretty intense movie in which Eva Green sparkled and the screen turns red again. Still, I thought it was a mediocre sequel to a peerless original film. An unnecessary sequel in other words.