For anyone who thought Zack Snyder’s first 300 wasn’t subtle enough, from the depths of development hell comes the prequel/sequel: 300: Rise of an Empire. Also, for anyone who’s ever questioned Snyder’s storytelling sensibility, look no further. Snyder is far better at visualizing a film than he is at writing one. While Snyder’s 300 was visually stimulating and drenched in testosterone, director Noam Murro cranks everything from that film up to 11 and the results are a sense-deadening bore. Who knew the human body was filled with so much blood. It certainly tries to give Kill Bill a run for its money.
Rise of the Empire is clearly computer-animated and splashed across the screen with aplomb. Oddly enough, while the film is being released in both 3D and IMAX 3D, it was screened in 2D for press. Considering the amount of things thrown at the screen, I can’t imagine the 3D was any worse. The 2D just takes the questionable CGI (basically the entire film) and squashes it flat. The amount of floating debris rises to hilarious levels when you know it’s supposed to be floating out of the picture and used to create depth.
Rise of an Empire begins with Gorgo, Queen of Sparta (Lena Headey), telling the story of a battle 10 years ago between Athens and Persia. Athenian Thermistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) puts an arrow into Persian king Darius’ (Yigal Naor) chest, causing his children, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and Artemisia (Eva Green), to vow revenge. Now, the film begins its focus on the Battle of Artemisium, parallel to the first film’s battle of Thermopylae lead by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler). We are also shown Artemisia’s manipulation of Xerxes and his transformation from mortal to “god.”
I suppose the person responsible for this dreck should be Snyder himself, considering he co-wrote and produced it. But director Murro also is at fault for not making us care for one minute about Thermistocles plight or even Gorgo’s revenge. The prequel/sidestory/sequel technique is a new way of handling this type of film but like I said, you never care about what’s happening. The first film gave us 300 men to root for; here we don’t even care about the father/son relationship between Scyllias (Callan Mulvey) and Calisto (Jack O’Connell). The only time the movie comes to life is whenever Eva Green is onscreen. She owns her role. Yes, she does eventually get topless, but even that is too little, too late. All Rise of an Empire leaves you with is a yearning to watch the first 300, which is time far better spent.
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures