If you thought 300 couldn’t possibly have a sequel due to the demise of Russell Crowe’s character (like my coworker did), you would be incorrect.
300: Rise of an Empire is Noam Murro’s first big-screen film. It features the writing of Zach Snyder, who directed its predecessor. This, no doubt, enhances stylistic and plot continuity, while allowing Murro to shine as he polishes the storyline, the cinematography, the battle scenes, and more.
Rise opens with a flashback of Russel Crowe’s death from the first movie. The Photoshop used to make the scene from the older movie appear three dimensional is comical, because apparently the best that the filmmakers could do was emphasize the horse trampling on the bodies (including Russel Crowe’s), so the animal was seemingly floating across a flat background of severed bodies. Such is the case with the rest of the film’s 3-D formatting – it was either poor or (more likely) not noticeable. (I didn’t mind much, because my friends and I still got to take silly pictures with the glasses after the movie was over)
Rise was an improvement on its already-entertaining predecessor. While the acting is average to poor, with a bit of brilliance from Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), rounder characters, such as Eva Green’s Artemisia (who wore the coolest costumes), kept the conventional plot interesting. I’m not a person who hates dialogue-driven films – obviously – but the simpler language in this film made it easier to focus on the battle scenes, the main focus of the film. The first movie was a bit too “talky,” and I was glad to see this one simplifying the plot and strengthening the action scenes to create an overall more striking movie.
The battle scenes in the second movie are indisputably better than the first. The Spartans fought on water, with Viking ships and cool maneuvers—a welcome change from the stumbling, entirely land-dwelling action scenes of the first 300. The dark sky and ocean behind the ships added to the climate of despair and mystery.
This is a very enjoyable film to see with friends, or perhaps a quality time-killer for a rainy Sunday afternoon. At any rate, I recommend it to fans of historically-styled action flicks.