A parallel story to the original film, the movie shows what else was happening while Spartan King Leonidas (Gerard Butler, who only appears briefly in flashbacks) and three hundred brave men battled against Persian “god-King” Xerxes’s (Rodrigo Santoro) 300,000 soldiers.
This one is a showdown between the freedom-loving Themistocles of Athens (Sullivan Stapleton, from HBO Canada’s “Strike Back”) and Artemisia of Caria (Eva Green), and that old foe of democracy, King Xerxes. Once again the Greeks are wildly outnumbered but put up a valiant fight against Artemisia, who not only wants to beat the Greek army but humiliate them as well.
This is a manly movie, filled with super macho advice like “don’t get killed on the first day,” and “there is no more noble action than lying in the blood of your brothers.” It’s a violent, testosterone soaked story, drenched in gore and more battle scenes per minute than any war movie in recent memory. There’s so much combat that a fight choreographer appears to have called in to devise the one and only sex scene.
The amount of man flesh on display might shame most of us into renewing our gym memberships, but swinging the biggest sword is Artemisia. She’s ruthless, driven by thoughts of revenge and is an all round awesome movie villain. How evil is she? Early on she plants a kiss on the lips of a man she’s just decapitated… and gets nastier from there.
The movie mimics “300‘s” highly stylized visuals. Much of the film resembles gothic oil paintings, but the addition of 3D introduces a “splatter zone” effect in the theatre as gallons of gore are sprayed across the screen. Also, like the first film, slow motion is used to emphasize the action. It’s so prevalent that if you played all the slo mo scenes in real time the 140-minute movie would only be about an hour long.
“300” was a heavy metal blast of sword and steel, an epic story with larger-than-life visuals but almost ten years on “300: Rise of an Empire” feels a bit old hat. A great villain and some fun action scenes almost make up for the plodding plot but the brutishness of the storytelling makes the original feel positively light hearted by comparison.