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Title: 300: Rise of an Empire
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Noam Murro
Starring: Stephen Sullivan, Eva Green, Lena Headey
Runtime: 1 hr 42 mins
What It Is: Themistokles (Sullivan) is a Greek general whose mistake led to the rise of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and the Persian Empire. Those actions set in motion the events of the first film. Meanwhile, Themistokles is dealing with the Persian Navy and their leader Artemisia (Green) with Themistokles’ small band of Athenian army, and the brave 300 Spartans being Greece’s only hope of stopping Xerxes’ army. Artemesia was loyal to Xerxes’ father Darius, whom Themistokles assassinated following the Battle of Marathon. We witness both the birth of a god-king and the struggle of a nation dealing with a superior force.
What We Think: First of all this film was awesome! And brutal. From the battle scenes reminiscent of the first to its much richer storyline, and intriguing character intentions. It’s a fun film that knows exactly what it is, and what it's supposed to be. Based on a graphic novel, much like its predecessor it uses a similar visual style, and being shot in 3D made all the blood and flying limbs look splendid. Director Murro does an admirable job. Unfortunately for him he just isn’t Snyder. The light at the end of this tunnel is that this is Murro’s first major venture. Known more for his 2008 film Smart People, 300: Rise of an Empire was certainly a change of pace from that. Murro does well but just doesn’t have the eye of Snyder.
Our Grade: B, This film missed Gerard Butler’s Leonidas. Even a cameo would’ve helped connect the story and made us believe more in Themistokles who often times came off as a weak Leonidas. Eva Green for me was a highlight as she stole every scene she was in. Her steady diet of scenery kept everything she did fresh and moved a film that I thought had some moments that weren’t all that interesting from becoming boring. If not for the fantastic action, and better beefier story this would’ve missed the boat completely, instead, it simply rocked the boat to the point of tippage.