300: Rise of an Empire is bloody alright.
300: Rise of an Empire packs more story and blood into 102 minutes than Persians packed into Thermopylae. What is more, they had more CG blood than water in the Adriatic Sea. It was almost comical how much blood they had spraying and pouring from severed limbs, I couldn’t help but wonder where they were keeping it all. Seriously, the human body does not have that much blood, around 1.5 gallons, and it would not all gush out at once. I don’t ask for realism, but if you are using this kind of animation you should understand the line between embellishment for the sake of being visually spectacular, comical quantities of blood. I’m sorry, Noam Murro, no one should try to imitate Zach Snyder, his style barely works for him.
Comical blood spray aside, there is a lot going for this movie, I do wish it wasn’t hidden behind a lot of ridiculous elements such as; The Greek’s military uniform is embarrassingly sparse. Is it a show of super manliness to fight wearing naught but a Speedo and a cape? Even Superman wore a shirt, and he is invincible. However I will give them points for being consistent with the first 300 movie. I would have just assumed the rest of Greece would leave the semi-nude combat to the Spartans. At least they were also as sparsely dressed as the Grecian landscape. Call me crazy but Athens did not look like the kind of place you would want to live, like Arizona. Why would they not just let the Persians have it and move someplace where agriculture is at least possible? But that is just me nitpicking the film to death. What really drove me crazy was the incessant need to give everyone detailed back-story. I also had a little trouble with the un-chronological method of storytelling. The timeline was jumbled enough to make it difficult to even follow the progression of events being shown. There were no reliable visual cues to tell us if we were in flashback, or in the present, and no way to be sure of the timeline. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been hard to just throw a date on screen for five seconds. It was rough and I have chronological whiplash from the journey.
300: Rise of an Empire focus on the second half of the Persian invasion of Greece. Set, before, during, and after the battle of Thermopylae where Leonidas’ 300 fell to Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). This film focuses on Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), and his command of the Grecian navy against the Persian armada lead by Artemesia (Eva Green). The primary engagements romanticized in this film are The Battle of Artemisium, which was a naval engagement fought during the battle of Thermopylae. Followed by Battle of Salamis in which the Spartan navy joins forces with Themistocles, commanded by the now widowed Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey).
What we had in this film was a rapid assembly and retelling of the entire second Persian invasion of Greece. It appears the first 300 movie was not intended to have any follow-up, so the events surrounding the invasion were not established. To appropriately continue the story outside the battle of Thermopylae they needed to establish the motivations behind the second invasion, which was that the first invasion failed, and Xerxes and Artemesia desired vengeance on Greece. A large portion of film was devoted to explaining who Xerxes, Artemesia, and Themistocles were. They were complex charecters, with complicated motivations. To fit those stories into a film which also covers two large military battles is impressive. This film is so packed with data much of it will be lost. Honestly I’d recommend brushing up on your history before walking into the theatre. You will end up following the timeline much better. Yes, I actually do recommend doing homework and research prior to seeing this. You may have to trust me, you will enjoy the film much more if you know what is going on ahead of time.
One performance in this film I would miss to specifically mention is that of Lena Headey, who you may recognize from Game of Thrones. There may not be a better way to put this, she absolutely kicked ass. She played a strong dynamic character, and was an impressive force on screen. She filled the role completely and outshone her co-stars significantly. I would imagine it was fun to pour everything into the character of Queen Gorgo that Queen Cersei Lannister is not. It was fantastic to watch, she was the most enjoyable part of this film, which overall was quite entertaining.
300: Rise of an Empire 7.5 out of 10, unabashed violence, and rushed storytelling overshadowed a complex plot with interesting characters.