Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω
The second film in the visual masterpiece that is the 300 series of films (I call it this because based on the ending of this one, I’d say there are more of them on the way), Rise of an Empire is exactly what I thought it would be.
I enjoyed the first 300. Brave soldiers willing to die to protect their country, set in a time that I’ve studied and most people find fascinating, combined with stunning visuals and a brilliant new style of special effects combined for a fun experience, if not a masterpiece of storytelling.
If you’ll remember, in the first 300 film, king Xerxes of Persia is mounting a campaign against Greece, and the noble and proud Spartans are protecting the country by blocking their access by land through a narrow corridor known as The Hot Gates, engaging in what has become known historically as the battle of Thermopylae (yes, these films are based on historical events).
As in history, the Persian campaign also involved a naval assault, led in the film by Artemisia (played by Eva Green) and defended by the Greek general Themistokles (played by Sullivan Stapleton), which took place at the same time as the battle at The Hot Gates. This film is the story of that battle, as well as some background into the history of the Persia/Greece “relationship.”
The film is visually stunning, there’s no two ways about that, and the use of 3D is probably the best I’ve seen to date in a live-action film. The battle scenes are also extremely well shot cinematically and engaging (with the characteristic slow-motion moments that everyone loved in the first film). There’s plenty of blood and gore, of course, and the sometimes over-the-top methods of death and destruction don’t seem out of place in the mayhem that is omnipresent.
I just wish they wouldn’t have opened their mouths, honestly.
The dialogue is horrible, and the acting is even worse, if that’s possible. (Though, as was pointed out to me when discussing the film post-screening, it’s possible there was no good way to act while saying the lines demanded of them.)
There’s also about as much storyline as is present in a UFC fight. If you don’t know what the historical references are, this lack of plot development could be a hindrance if you’re watching it for any reason other than the beautiful action, cinematography and effects.
Overall, it’s not a waste of your time. Just make sure you get to watch it on a really big screen, for as little money as possible (I went on a Tuesday for $8.50) and lower your expectations to “thoughtless violence beautifully presented.”