Director: Noam Murro
Cast: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Rodrigo Santoro
Plot: As King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans battle the Persians at the Hot Gates, General Themistokles rallies all of Greece to unite against the Persians at the Aegean Sea.
Review: I loved the original 300 film. Yes, it was a dumb action film, with lots of corny lines and mindless violence, but it was so much fun.
Zack Snyder now moves from the director's chair into the producer's chair and lets new helmer Noam Murro present a sidequel, if you will, that centers on the other cities of Greece battling the invading Persians at sea. The Greeks, led by Themistokles, are outnumbered by the Persians, just like Leonidas and the Spartans, but thanks to the smart general, they hold their own very well. The Persians are led by Artemisia, a former Greek woman who now serves Persia, and she is as ruthless as they come.
Murro, to his credit, does not differ very much from Snyder's formula and loads his film with tons of violence. There are some pretty neat action scenes too, mostly taking place on floating ships. Murro also includes a few back stories for the principal characters like Themistokles, Artemisia and Xerxes, which helps us understand their characters better.
But as good as Murro's attempts are, it somehow pales in comparison to the original 300. It's not entirely his fault though. 300 was an awesome film, and it's pretty tough to follow up with something just as good. Thing is, the characters here are just not as fascinating as Leonidas and the Spartans, even if some may say that they hold more appeal due to them not being bulked up heroes like the Spartans. The above mentioned back stories, good as they are, just aren't enough to make them stand out.
Sullivan Stapleton is more than decent as Themistokles, but doesn't quite have the screen presence of Gerard Butler from the original. Eva Green fares slightly better as Artemisia, playing her somewhat similar to her character from TV's Camelot. Lena Headey and Rodrigo Santoro make short appearances as Gorgo and Xerxes respectively, to somewhat connect this story to the first 300.
Overall, 300: Rise Of An Empire is pretty good on its own. From the way things ended, there might be a follow up, so hopefully it'll be better then. (3.5/5)