There were a lot of speculations about what 300 Rise Of An Empire would be about. Some thought it to be a prequel while many believed that it would be a sequel to 300. As it turns out, the film is neither of the two. The story of 300 Rise Of An Empire unfolds in the same timeline as the event s of 300. Darius, the Persian king lays his hands on Athens and he is shot down by Themestokles (Sullivan Stapleton). The king dies but not before he requests his son Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) never to lay hands on Athenians until divine intervention finishes them off. Artemisia (Eva Green), his commander, driven by her own hatred for the Athenians toys with the mind of Xerxes turning him into the God king that he becomes. Once He takes over the throne, Xerxes unleashes a full blown attack on the Athenians, Greeks and Spartans. As Xerxes and his army faces Leonidas (Gerard Butler) at Thermopylae, Artemisia leads a colossal naval brigade against Themestokles and the Athenians. The film ends with the Spartans and Athenians coming together united much in the same fashion as 300 ended.
300 Rise Of An Empire is the same old wine that 300 was but it doesn’t have the same kick as its predecessor. While 300 was a first for many in the way it was executed and envisioned, the new installment doesn’t have that leverage. Instead it had to better what its predecessor had achieved in terms of quality and content. The film differs in the setting with most of the battles in this installment being Naval battles fought under thundering skies with dark over tones unlike 300 which had its battle sequences in broad daylight under rugged and dusty ravines. The action sequences are beautifully filmed with some usage of the slow motion shots that was made popular by its predecessor. The usage of 3D has nevertheless elevated the effects of many sequences. Of the many battles shown, the one in which the Athenians are pushed back by a single handed charge of brilliant intellect employed by Artemisia is the highlight. The way she plunders the Athenian navy using the strength of fire power and the way she employs it is scintillating to watch.
While 300 had a great source material courtesy Frank Miller, 300 Rise Of An Empire, is weak in terms of material with some gaping holes and almost inexplicable situations popping up here and there. How could one explain the dinner date between the arch enemies Artemisia and Themestokles? As was the case with 300, 300 Rise Of An Empire is horrendously absurd historically. The makers should have put up a foot note right at the beginning and marked it as a fiction because if some kid is to take a history lesson from this one then he/she would be sorely mistaking. 300 Rise Of An Empire constantly gives you a feeling of watching the World Cup cricket semi-final Highlights while the finals are being telecast live somewhere else.
For once Gerard Butler is sorely missed. Sullivan Stapleton has neither the screen presence nor the persona to make any impact whatsoever in a role where the need of the hour was the above two. He is routed in almost every scene by Eva Green’s Artemisia who is the heart and soul of the movie. It’s no wonder that the film ends within minutes of her death. She is seductive, heartless and dangerous. Most importantly, she has reason enough to lead the army against the Athenians. “Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman’s Wrath”. Lena Headly reprises her role as queen Gorgo and makes an impact in the scenes that she is a part of. Rodrigo Santoro is confused and bears that look all throughout.
This is no historical piece. It is for pure visceral and visual entertainment. While many would be able to find that in this film, the fans of the previous installment like me might just be a tad bit disappointed about the lack of interest that the makers have put in to this one and which is so abundantly visible in the product. Some more work on the story and the character development with some good casting would have made this film an interesting affair.