300 was quite the hit back in 2006, giving Gerard Butler that stamp in Hollywood (which also came with the phrase “This is Sparta” and the undying question of how much of the abs was actually his and how much was CGI). Directed by Zack Snyder, who is one of those directors who you’ll either really love or without a doubt avoid, it’s also one of those films you’ll either really like or really dislike. Some actually dubbed it as a very camp onscreen portrayal of Frank Miller’s graphic novel. Setting aside the negative comments, it actually was really good. It had a strong enough story to build on and the action was really entertaining. Who wouldn’t like to see 300 Spartans taking on thousands of Persians with just a sword and shield slicing and dicing the crap out of them? There’s just so much testosterone floating about, even in the women! Queen Gorgo really served as a Queen, a very strong female role model holding the same amount of power as her hubby, King Leonidas essentially.
300: Rise of an Empire begins where it left off in 300, but then goes back to 300 acting as a prequel, then a side dish, then slightly a sequel. It’s the three elements in one, a strong feature for the film. Going back a little, we get to see how Xerxes becomes the smooth, gold-looking mortal-turned-God, with the help of Artemisia, a woman scorned. This leads on to the Greek general, Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) leading his army to take care of the invasion of the Persian navy, led by Xerxes and Artemisia (all of this happening on the sea of course).
Rise of an Empire in terms of blood, action and power is really an exaggerated version of 300. This is a good thing though as it gives more action and more blood, well bucket loads of blood, and a lot more decapitation. It’s rated a 15, but could easily have been an 18 (it’s surfing on the boarders). It has to be said that Eva Green as Artemisia stole the show. Her character was incredible. Good timing for international Women’s “weekend” too. It’s so awesome when you get these strong female characters in film that know how to handle themselves and doesn’t become the damsel in distress. Even what should have been steamy seductive sex scene, ended up looking like a fight. She ruled without a doubt, if anything she had more balls than the rest of them. She is everything a warrior should be and even though she used a bow and arrow a few times (there seems to be quite the obsessions that women only know how to use a bow and arrow) she handled the sword/swords with the intention to kill with a capital ‘K’. Not to mention Queen Gorgo played by Lena Heady, (I’m having a hard time not seeing a resemblance to Keira Knightley) who swings into action as yet another woman scorned.
Whether you’re a fan of Zack Snyder’s work or not, it can’t be ignored that his fight sequences, capturing slow motion and the vision he has when filming is incredible. It’s different and unique, and really feels like the graphic novel is on the screen. CGI plays a huge part, but it really does work. Sometimes when watching a film, the excessive use of CGI can get a little annoying, however with Snyder, this isn’t the case. He has his own style of filming so you know when it’s a Zack Snyder film. His work has really caught my attention recently. The 3D was outstanding and just made the film even better. After watching 300 in 2D, it was without a doubt a fact that this was going to look awesome in 3D. It gave a good feel to the environment and the distances between characters. The way the environment handles the 3D makes you want to put your hand through the screen. There’s also a scene where Xerxes played by Rodrigo Santoro is standing before everyone on a different level and in the shot you see the back of him and all these people in front, but the 3D gives the scene that depth to show the distance between Xerxes and Persians. It’s really amazing. So forget about stuff flying towards you, this is how 3D should be (with the occasional spear flying through someone’s chest that we see from behind so it would come towards the screen). This is one film that’s really worth going to see in 3D.
The whispers of this being on the same wavelength as 300 are merely a myth. By the abs of the Greek Gods, it is far better than 300 without the lovely scented whiff of Butler and Fassbender.
4 out of 5 stars