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 A scene from movie, "300: Rise of an Empire". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "300: Rise of an Empire". – Courtesy Photo

In 300: Rise of an Empire, a nation will die because “she” was wronged.

Noam Murro’s 300: Rise of an Empire plays out more like a video game expansion pack rather than a full-fledged sequel to the ground breaking movie that spawned generations of Sparta-shouting memes.

The plot focuses on the Persians’ pursuit of world domination led by their God-King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) versus their major obstacle - Greek men with chiseled chests spouting glory-in-death speeches.

Sounds oddly familiar?

Unlike the original however, Rise of an Empire seems to be a small part of this epic battle. Back in 2007 when the graphic novel by Frank Miller was adapted for the screen half the original story was dropped, particularly the role of Xerxes’ general, who as it turns out, happens to be a goth-girl in chic black.

 A scene from movie, "300: Rise of an Empire". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "300: Rise of an Empire". – Courtesy Photo

Artemisia (Eva Green) is a Greek woman scorned, who wants to see her motherland burn. Much of the plot is a series of jumps in time exploring Xerxes and Artemisia’s origin. One gets God-hood by dipping in a pool of gold; the other is trained to kill by a “kind” killer of men (Lena Headey provides authenticity as the Spartan queen Gorgo, Leonidas’ wife).

 A scene from movie, "300: Rise of an Empire". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "300: Rise of an Empire". – Courtesy Photo

Other than this halfway coherent plot line, there is little focus in the film.

Yes, there is a lot of fake blood-splatter and brutally amputated limbs. Horses, jump from one burning ship to the next in a mind-numbing display of digital prowess. Heroes score impossibly long-distance kills, a father-son duo share camaraderie on the battlefield, a decapitated head gets some ‘extra loving’, and the villainess finds time to satiate her carnal desires with our battle-weary hero Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton). The skies darken, seas get angry and large-scale massacres are assumedly a discussion on freedom over slavery.

 A scene from movie, "300: Rise of an Empire". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "300: Rise of an Empire". – Courtesy Photo

The end.

In 300, Snyder, who adapts Miller’s “Xerxes” with Kurt Johnstad, at least had a grip on his one-track narrative. In Rise we are offered digital virtuosity in an attempt to fill in for shallowness and a lack of epic conviction expected from the 300 franchise.

In a word: disappointing.


Released by Warner Bros and HKC Entertainment, “300: Rise of an Empire” is rated R for sex, action and mass manslaughter and simulated blood splatter.

Directed by Noam Murro; Produced by Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton, Mr. Snyder, Deborah Snyder and Bernie Goldmann; Written by Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad (based on the graphic novel “Xerxes” by Frank Miller); Cinematography by Simon Duggan; Edited by Wyatt Smith and David Brenner; Music by Junkie XL; Production Design by Patrick Tatopoulos.

Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Rodrigo Santoro, Callan Mulvey and Jack O’Connell.