300: Rise Of An Empire Review

March 25, 2014 10:17 am

I know, I know, you were expecting a GUY to write this review, weren’t you?

300: Rise Of An Empire had big shoes to film. Its older brother 300, within months of its release, was seen as both a mainstream and a cult classic. Beautifully, poetically shot with some notable acting talent in, anything that followed after was bound to fail.

300 rise of an empire

Or, at least, that’s what you’d expect. I, however, left the cinema feeling I’d definitely gotten my money’s worth, and it was nothing to do with my home-made popcorn.

The premise is simple: what was happening around the story of the 300 of Sparta. The same graphic novel feel, complete with artistic fight scenes that are as much a dance as a choreographed fight, except, you know, more aggressive. Harsh colours and stark contrast, and the story of legend at its core. And the fact that the story is largely embellished if not downright wrong in places is forgiveable mostly for its beauty and sense as a good story.

The rest of Greece flounders after Themistocles realises the error he made in killing the Turkish king, who was then replaced with his god-king son, Xerxes. Spurred on by blood-thirsty Artemisia, Xerxes crushes all in his path while Themistocles and the gathered farmhands-turned-soldiers he has at his disposal attempt to put up a resistance.

themistocles

Themistocles actor Sullivan Stapleton is one whose career I’ll admit, I’ve not had on my radar before, but his interpretation here is good. He thankfully does not attempt to be another Leonidas – which would not work anyway as Themistocles’ character was vastly different, but no less sympathetic.

Eva Green is perfectly cast as Artemisia, the wronged and sadistic captain of the God King Xerxes’ navy, The Mysticles’ direst enemy. It can go two ways when pitting a woman as the main antagonist against a male protagonist, especially in a movie whose target audience is quite undeniably male: it either provides for a weak opposition and bad conflict throughout the film, depending on how it is scripted, or it can provide juicy scenes with a lesser-seen dynamic that is thrilling to watch. Thankfully, in this instance, Green’s portrayal of the hard-hearted warrior woman is both understated to a believable degree and deliciously savage. The chemistry between her and Themistocles’ actor Sullivan is somewhat questionable, but due to the nature of the conflict, they have only two scenes physically together and it doesn’t dampen the storyline.

Lena Headey is back as Gorga, the Spartan widow of Leonidas, but this time there is more than a slight touch of Cersei from Game Of Thrones in her impersonation here, which loses Gorga as we remember her from the first film somewhat, so a slight disappointment, but Headey is indeed great on film and pulls off being a strong character as is now very much her casting type. I wonder exactly what has gone into the make-up…and slightly more drastic side of things, seeing as in this film, she looks a good five to ten years younger than she did at the start of Game Of Thrones… That alone is slightly distracting if you’re a watcher of GOT as well.

300: BATTLE OF ARTEMESIUM

The introduction drags for maybe just slightly too long, but then not everyone can be an expert on Greek fable. The rest of the story keeps up a good pace, tinged with that same captivating Overcoming Horrendous Odds feel that the first 300 captured us all with. The script is good, though there was room to go into even more classical phrases and language in places, which may have fleshed out even more beauty, yet understandably doesn’t do too much so as to not risk alienating much of its common denominator audience. It is also wonderfully grand to see strong female characters as leads in this picture.

In a nutshell:

With 300: ROAE, you get what you get with the first 300, just a little different. Death scenes that are poetic. Boobs galore and some sexual violence for good measure (of course!) Men with their chests out practically the whole way through the movie (okay, but it still doesn’t make up for the sexual violence…) A beautiful set and any CGI input is kept looking as real as possible, so as not to disturb the majesty of the plot points. If you are thinking about it and you liked 300, definitely go and see it. If you’re not a fan of the first movie, you won’t like this. But, if you are umming and aahing, either way, my advice is give it a try.

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