Friday Features: '300: Rise of an Empire' review

Friday Features: '300: Rise of an Empire' review

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

If you enjoyed the 2006 film “300," and you are looking for a primarily computer-generated bloodbath, then “300: Rise of An Empire” is just for you. Heading back to creators Zack Snyder and Frank Miller’s ancient world of Greeks, Persians and more, this second installation picks up where “300” left off and recreates a similar story of out-numbered men trying to overcome a powerful force.

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by HAYDEN PITTMAN

WFAA Special Contributor

Posted on March 7, 2014 at 12:51 AM

If you enjoyed the 2006 film “300," and you are looking for a primarily computer-generated bloodbath, then “300: Rise of An Empire” is just for you. Heading back to creators Zack Snyder and Frank Miller’s ancient world of Greeks, Persians and more, this second installation picks up where “300” left off and recreates a similar story of out-numbered men trying to overcome a powerful force.

Rise of An Empire” is an action-packed video game-like movie featuring large land and sea massacres, dramatic music, and an abundance of six-packed men seeking revenge, power, and freedom.

The first thing to note about this film is the fact that it is basically a prequel, sequel, and concurrently running extension of “300” all in one. “Rise of an Empire” covers a large time span, as it depicts the events leading up to “300,” features multiple scenes that would’ve happened during the same time and location of “300,” and continues the story following the events of the first film.

As a refresher, in “300,” King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) leads a group of 300 Spartans to defend an impending attack by over 100,000 Persians, led by King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). After a long and hard fought last stand, the Persians finally defeat the Spartans. In “Rise of an Empire,” Xerxes and the Persians continue to march on the Greek city-states, and admiral Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) must create an unlikely alliance to make yet another stand against this massive army. Throw in actress Eva Green as Persian queen Artemisia and an expanded role from Lena Headey as Queen Gogo (Leoniadas’ wife from “300”), and you’ve got yourself an ancient standoff filled with pools of blood, beheadings, and a variety of skirmishes mostly taking place at sea.

Even though Zack Snyder, director of “300,” has passed the torch to Noam Murro for “Rise of an Empire” and this time puts on his producer hat, Snyder’s style is still very much present. From movies like “Sucker Punch,” “Watchmen,” and “Man of Steel,” Snyder has established his own approach to storytelling using distinctive, highly-stylized visuals. He by no means claims to create movies that are completely “realistic;” on the contrary, he likes to create an illusionary experience using enhanced colors, extreme details, and a lot of CGI special effects. There is a variety of slow motion, violent and gory combat, and multiple complimentary camera perspectives, such as zooming in on a weapon, body part, or specific person, focusing on the bloodshed, and panning the camera around to different vantage points during a specific scene.

This film dives further into how the mighty Xerxes went from small child to man to god, the hesitation among the Greeks to unite against the Persians, and the aftermath of the massacre of King Leonidas and the brave 300. The expanded content is interesting, but the film spends a great deal of time in conversation and explanations of why each side is seeking revenge or destruction. The music score present is filled with horns, pianos, string instruments, trumpets, and other sounds to create a variety of dramatic, fictional-type, action-feeling music. There are multiple long shots of backgrounds, large cities, and combat scenes on land and at sea, and being heavily computer-generated, the world that has been created is visually intriguing.

This is definitely the kind of film you see purely for the action/combat and special effects, offering much the same as other movies but with a different presentation and style than most films, and with this type of content, there is room to further expand on future or past stories. “300: Rise of An Empire” stars Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, David Wenham, Callan Mulvey, and Rodrigo Santoro. This film releases in theaters this weekend nationwide.

Rated 3 out of 5 stars.

“300: Rise of an Empire” is rated R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language. Running time is 1 hour and 42 minutes.


Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and hopes to pursue a future in filmmaking and screenwriting. As an average, passionate film lover who rarely misses a film, his reviews are straightforward and his way with words will let you know in a simple way what he thinks. Don’t like what he has to say? Let him know at haydenp@youplusmedia.com or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt.

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