300: Rise of an Empire is the not-a-sequel sequel to 2006’s 300, the story of a group of 300 Spartan men who head to battle against Xerxes and his army of Persians. Rise takes place at the same time as the events of 300, and shows the efforts of Athenian general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton), who tries to unite Greece’s city-states to fight against the approaching Persian navy, led by Artemisia (Eva Green), who is hell-bent on seeking revenge against Greece. The film also brings back Spartan Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) and Persian god-King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro).
Rise of an Empire is based off of a yet-to-be-released graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller. Though Rise isn’t directed by Zack Snyder like the original, the film’s director Noam Murro kept many elements of the film the same, including the signature slow-motion, blood splattered fighting scenes and highly altered colors that 300 is known for.
Like the original, there are plenty of shirtless men with spectacular abs. While that much exposed skin might not make for the best way to fight in a battle, it certainly is nice to look at while you’re watching these men be sliced open by swords and pierced by arrows. If there’s going to be some gore, at least it’s sexy gore.
Arguably the best scene in the whole film is sex scene that takes place between Stapleton and Green. Artemesia seduces Themistokles whilst trying to convince him to abandon the Greeks and fight for the Persians. Not much progress is made though, as Themistokles falls victim to Artemesia’s allure and soon they are violently attacking one another and ripping each other’s clothes off. Nothing is off-limits for these two as Themistokles passionately thrusts his “sword” all over Artemesia’s “battlefield.”
While I’m still having trouble trying to comprehend how one can walk into a pool of water and come out hairless and covered in gold jewelry and an obscene amount of eye makeup, Xerxes remains a force to be reckoned with in this film, as he tries to avenge his father’s death. While he isn’t the antagonist with the most screen time, you still get the feeling of a power hungry psychopath whenever he rears his clean-shaven, gold plated body.
Overall, the film is nothing spectacular, but it has great action sequences and that signature blood-splattered look and feel of the original.
300: Rise of an Empire is in theaters now