Sunday, March 9, 2014

300 Rise of An Empire Review: The Action Packed Quel!

In 2007, the movie world was introduce to 300. Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, 300 was turned into a visually intoxicating action film about the 300 Spartans against the Persian Army.  The film made moviegoers into fans and has had many screaming “This Is Sparta” for years. While the movie was successful, the idea of a second film seemed all but questionable. However, after much some down time, 300 would charge into theaters again in 300: Rise of An Empire. This continuation to 300 is quite unique because it is not a sequel, or a prequel; nor is it a interquel. Rise of An Empire is in fact all of the above; making it a quel. Despite being a unique case, can Rise of An Empire live up to the name 300? Is this film a quel worth seeing?

Rise of An Empire presents a unique narrative. It starts off with the telling the back-story of God-King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). After his father was murdered, the general Artemisia (Eva Green) plants the idea in Xerxes’ head to take revenge on the Greeks by becoming the God-King. Xerxes rise of power leads into the interquel side of things when the Athenian Commander Themistocles (Sullivan Stampleton) ready his troops to challenge Artemisia and her naval forces. The battle ensues all the way til the death of the 300 Spartans, where Themistocles seeks to unite all of Greece against the Persians.

While this may sound like a confusing the plot, Rise of The Empire’s overall story was executed fairly well. Most of the film deals plays as an interquel with Themistocles fighting the Persians on the sea. As an interquel goes, the story was engaging. In fact, the story of this film helps the plot of 300 by widening the scope of the Persian threat. The movie did not get a lot to play as a sequel, but the story’s overall execution made up for that minor problem. If there were any issues I had with the story it would be that there were similarities between this film and its predecessor. However, these issue were very minor.

No matter who would have been cast, it would have been difficult to fill the sandals of Gerald Butler’s Leonidas. However, Sullivan Stampleton does just as well as Themistocles. Themistocles was different kind of protagonist as he lived and breathed for Greece. However Themistocles did have his faults, such as letting his ego getting the better of him. Themistocles was certainly no Leonidus, but that is what made him great. Sharing the spotlight with Sullivan Stampleton was Eva Green as Artemisia. Artemisia was spiteful, determined and crazy and I loved every minute of her. Green played a terrific antagonist for this film as Artemisia was just a different kind  of character for a film like this.

The movie saw several returns from the first film. Surprisingly, I preferred Rodrigo Santoro’s Xerxes in this film then I did in the first film. It was probably Xerxes’ back story that really helped the character out this time. Lena Headey was also great in her reprisal of Spartan Queen Gorgo. There was not much Gorgo, but when she was on screen, Headey brought her A game making that character look even stronger. David Wenham was also great to see again, but there was very little of him. Aside from two strong leads and returning characters, the rest of the cast were just ok; but they still did their job to give a 300 a compelling cast.

If you are expecting action from this movie, then you will not be disappointed. Granted, the action of Rise of An Empire is very different then that of 300 due to most of the battles taking place on the ships. However, this difference only helps this quel as it gave an interesting dynamic to this franchise. While the action might be different, the blood is still there. The blood effects range on the silly when the film starts, but as the movie progresses, this effect were slimmed down and became less distracting. However, the outrageous blood effects were to be expected because if they were not there, then it just would not have been 300.

Rise of An Empire is a surprise to say the least. The movie might not have the same impact as its predecessor, but this movie took bold steps. This quel was exciting as it was engaging and there might be a chance that we could see a continuation. If a third film does happen, know that I will be waiting for it.