Film Review – 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

300: Rise of an Empire

Title – 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

Director – Noam Murro (Smart People)

Cast – Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Callan Mulvey, Hans Matheson, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro

Plot – Set both before, during and after the grand battle of the 300 Spartans, Rise of an Empire focuses its golden tinged gaze onto the mighty Themistocles (Stapleton) and his daring battles against the bent on blood Artemisia (Green) as her Persian army looks to burn Greece to the ground.

“Better we show them, we chose to die on our feet, rather than live on our knees”

Review by Eddie on 7/03/2014

While Zack Snyder’s 2006 blood soaked, sun drenched, slo-mo ab fest 300 is in no way a narrative masterpiece there is little doubt about it’s power as pure visceral entertainment value, a fact highlighted by its huge box office booty and a legion of fans that to this day remember the splattering of Persian and Spartan blood as fondly as when it first hit their senses like a swaying of a sharpened sword. With the subsequent release of this prequel/sequel, many of these rabid fans were hoping for more of the same and while 300: Rise of an Empire does indeed provide much of the same in the stakes of blood, slo-mo abs and as much wheat grass 3-D effects as you can shake a loincloth at, it just holds none of the abstract charm or wow factor that made it’s much grander predecessor such a joy.

The movie itself should be entitled 300: On a Boat (and yes I was hoping you’d think of Lonely Island as you read that) with much of the action forfeiting the comfort of solid ground in favour of a procession of navy battles that really start to blur into one another and become nothing more than a bunch of skirmishes that feel all to similar. The move to have the action take place on the high seas was clearly done to try and make the film seem more grand than it actually is and try to separate itself from what has come before, but in saying this the film seems to take every opportunity to pay homage or remind us of what went on in 300 and all that does is remind the audience that they probably should’ve stayed home and watched the original instead. These naval battles do however have moments of visual beauty and individual scenes that give off the sense at some stage the film was on the right track, but is consistently derailed thanks to a narrative that at no stage engages as 300 did in 2006.

In his first Hollywood leading role, Australian Sullivan Stapleton is given a sword, a cape and many grandstanding battle speeches but unfortunately he doesn’t even come close to filling Gerard Butler’s blood soaked sandals. His role as the heroic Themistocles is so bland you almost wish the film was a silent movie, with no dialogue resonating or getting that pre-battle blood flowing in a way which vastly improved our time spent with Leonidas. Other actors are all merely sword and spear fodder with Eva Green’s seriously tormented and twisted Artemisia making the biggest impression, but to say her performance is anything more than a bit of fun would be a lie. It is a shame that relatively new director Noam Murro couldn’t get more out of the human aspect; as said before he does at times display a quality hand with certain visuals and moments of battle that make the film better than it perhaps even is.

While 300 will continue to entertain and remain a very quality piece of throwaway visual entertainment, Rise of an Empire will likely sink like a wrecked ship of war in a sea of other average follow ups. Possessing some nice visuals and spraying some pretty looking blood effects does not a good film make, but we can be thankful of it reminding us that the original is a better film than many give it credit for.

2 boat horses out of 5

35 responses to “Film Review – 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

  1. Well damn. I am still looking forward to this somewhat, I enjoyed the loud, over-the-topness of 300. Maybe though this won’t even match that element, either, I guess I’ll have to wait and see til tmrw!

    Good review Eddie

    • Let us know what you thought man, hopefully your seeing it on the biggest loudest screen possible!
      I think this one would actually be pretty sweet in IMAX as it’s visuals are it’s saving grace somewhat.

  2. I was skeptical of Rise of an Empire from the getgo. 300 was loads of great intellectually bankrupt fun, but it was defined by Gerard Butler’s hammy Scottish accented Leonidas. Leonidas is one of the most badass characters in recent memory, and like Maximus before him the fact that he died just makes him even more badass.

    • Poor old Sullivan was no match for the “man” that was Butler and therefore Leonidas 😦 If he was more up to par the film would of worked a heck of a lot better!

  3. I’ve been meaning to watch this movie. I’ve seen “300” but haven’t seen this one yet. I loved “300”.

  4. This is what I was afraid of. As you said, 300 was decent, but nothing amazing. I was hoping that this would follow suit and at least provide some decent entertainment. Might just do as you suggested and stay home to watch the original instead. Great review, thanks for the warning!

    • I really dug 300 Jenna as pure bloody entertainment but yeh sadly this one never felt truly entertaining. It never helps with a dull lead and story though.

  5. Good review Eddie. It’s incredibly dumb, but still pretty fun. Still though, it doesn’t really do much to differentiate itself from the awesome original. Maybe that’s the point, but it doesn’t quite work well for the final-product.

  6. You have to wonder if this really needed a sequel! Especially so many years since the first one, which was never more than decent in the first place!

  7. I’m not surprised by this review. I pretty much knew that this wouldn’t live up to it’s predecessor. Great Review :]

      • I think it’s just hard to replace the epicness of the first movie. 300 men against the entire Persian Army is a lot intense then naval battles and Leonidas was just a badass in the first movie.

  8. I wish I would have listened to your review and saved $14.50! I would give it a 2/5 as well and feel the same in everything, however I enjoyed the main lead even though he couldn’t reach Butlers intensity! The film was seriously lacking some Spartans as well >.< nice review!

  9. I’ll probably watch it because it’s about Greek history, but I’m sure I’ll find it silly and weird! However, there’s got to be a sequel to the “For tonight, we dine in hell” catch phrase, haha!

  10. Pingback: Film Review – Kill Me Three Times (2014) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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