Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Want to know what one of the major problems is with this movie '300: Rise of an Empire'?  Eva Green is the problem.  Now you're saying… Hey Moron, I've seen this movie, Eva Green was the best thing about this movie… and you'd be right.  About me being a Moron and Eva Green being the best thing about this movie.  But here's the thing, she's the bad guy in this movie, the heavy, the villain.  But Artemisia is so wonderful and deliciously bad that she made me happy every time I saw her, then they went and gave her a backstory which kind justifies why she's so mean in the first place… then in this backstory they made actor Peter Mensa… the emissary in the first movie… and one our favorite actors here at the FCU… as her mentor.  Now, with this backstory, we see why she has this perpetual mad-on, and as a result, we… or I guess me… are kind of rooting for her.  Plus in this movie they give her awesome negotiating skills.  She even put Xerexes (Rodrigo Santoro) in his place, and he's the God King.  Gave him a backstory too.  Our hero got nothing.  Who are we rooting for?  Not the Athenians, even though we are supposed to.  That's a problem.

'300: Rise of an Empire', a prequel, current time, sequel to '300', starts off with Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) narrating about how the Athenian Thermistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) killed the king of Persia during a glorious battle, but realized that this was terrible mistake as he gave birth to a much worse alternative in his son Xerxes.  Now Xerxes used to be a bit of a punk, that is until Artemisia got ahold of him, shaped him and formed into the ten foot tall blinged out delusional psychopath that we have all come to know and love.  Artemisia for her part is in command of the Persian navy, and she rules with a heavy hand and she hates her some Greeks something awful. 

Thermistocles knows that the Persian Navy is coming and something has to be done about this, so he takes his own navy of brave fighting men to hold off Artemisia from landing and taking over Greece, meanwhile King Leonidus and his legion of 300 are doing their thing on land.  Thermistocles impresses Artemisia with his clever skills, but she knows it's just a matter time, besides, we already know what eventually is going to happen to Leonidus and his 300, so Thermistocles is just delaying the inevitable. 
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Thermistocles needs help.  He needs Sparta if the Persians are to be thwarted, but the good Queen feels Sparta has given enough.  Whatever… better to die on your feet than live on your knees… or something along those lines.  He also knows that if some way, somehow he can take out Artemisia, then the Persians will be lost.  If only he can get close to her… a second time that is… He was pretty close to her the first time.   Can't get much closer.  But this second time, he wants to stab her… in a different way… with his amazing fire proof horse that can swim and fly.  What is this thing, Pegasus?  Anyway… I know how it has to end, I'm just not pleased that it has to end this way.

'300: Rise of an Empire' is probably bigger and bloodier and crazier than the movie it follows, some eight years ago, but alas, the novelty has kind of faded.  For instance, when I saw '300' at the theater back in 2006, it blew me out of my seat.  It was an experience.  I'd never seen anything quite like that before.  Now I've seen it few times since then, a proud owner of that film on defunct HD-DVD, the Look and Sound of Perfect, and it gets a little less awesome with each viewing as opposed to one of those movies that gets better with each viewing.  'Rise of an Empire' is even less awesome, despite the added draw of 3D which was well implemented this time around. 

Now don't get me wrong… the movie is big and loud and bloody and it moves like a bat out of hell… it's just that this was a sequel that probably needed to be released in 2008 as opposed to 2014 while the concept was still fresh and minds where still primed to be blown.  Then there was the issues with the narrative choices, that being giving all of the real flavor to our villains.  We're not completely upset with director Noam Murro and Producer Zach Snyder about this as we would probably pay good money to watch Eva Green knit a sweater for ninety minutes, but actor Sullivan Stapleton is our hero, and he needed all the help he could get since he wasn't blessed with Gerard Butler's screen presence.  This is the character that really needed the backstory, this is the character that needed to be propped up so that as he was bravely fighting for his country, we were cheering for him as opposed to wishing he would get off the screen so we could see more of Artemisia and even Xerxes.  They were the ones having all of the fun, chewing up scenery and reigning terror in a terribly entertaining manner.

'300: Rise of an Empire' probably is not a good movie as it's story is a bit fractured, a little slipshod, and seems to lack focus unless that focus was on 3D blood splatter and dismemberments, but it is entertaining.  It would be hard for it not to be.  But the villain gets to have all the fun, and this is probably not the design, but that's the character we identified with most in this one. 
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