300: Rise of an Empire tries to focus on rampant action and blood/gore from ‘300’ while continuing the story onwards. Zack Snyder wrote the screenplay of the movie, but on a very strong level his lack of work as a director is apparent in the film’s execution. While the storyline is bearable and the naval sequences vast in scale and size, the character of Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) feels dated and unenthusiastic in many ways as a leader for war. This is in part to the rather monotone infused acting of Stapleton, which severely undermines any chance the film had to be good. One cannot help but feel the lack of Gerard Butler and his onscreen presence as King Leonidas throughout the movie, who truly screamed of a leader fighting for his people.
300: Rise of an Empire is about how Greek general Themistokles leads a charge against the ever-strong Persian forced led by Xerxes and Artemisia (Eva Green) as the commander of Persia’s navy. The visuals of 300: Rise of an Empire are definitely the most impressive thing about the film, but with a stark lack of contrast with these scenes and a memorable cast aside from the stunning performance of the damaged and very brute Artemisia by Eva Green, the visuals hold no candle to the original ‘300’ in terms of scale, and memorable quote tie-in’s (Our arrows will blot out the sun/then we will fight in the shade). Everything from the original is missing entirely in terms of spirit and depth, keeping 300: Rise of an Empire further away from a true spiritual successor to ‘300’ in terms of the Spartan army’s fury to even the leader’s dead presence himself.
The plot fails to keep anyone intrigued beyond the origins of Xerxes birth as a demi-god which is relatively more interesting than the bulk of the protagonist’s story and political alliance with Queen Gorgo of Sparta (Lena Headey). The worst part of 300: Rise of an Empire is not its terrible acting by Stapleton or the lackluster plot, but its failure to deliver anyone an experience that is worth remembering.
Rating: 1.5/5 stars