Action Fans Find a Worthy Sequel in “300: Rise of an Empire”

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
March 7th, 2014

Fans of the 2006 blockbuster hit "300" get another installment of the epic tale with "300: Rise of an Empire." The film is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel "Xerxes." Directed by Noam Murro, the sequel picks up the story of the Persian Army after their defeat of Leonidas' legendary 300 Spartan soldiers. The film brings back a few of the characters that make "300" great, including Xerxes played by Rodrigo Santoro, Queen Gorgo portrayed by Lena Headey and Dilios played by David Wenham. New and exciting additions to the story and cast include Greek admiral Themistocles played by Sullivan Stapleton and Persian commander Artemisia depicted by Eva Green.

The film's rating promises, "strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout," and the film's creators and cast indicate the battle scenes are as visually surreal as the original. Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad are at the writing helm for "300: Rise of an Empire" helping ensure consistency in tone and storyline with the original "300." Sometimes, what makes a sequel great is the ability to get away from the standard formulas while continuing on with the same feel and narrative. This film does not follow a strictly linear time structure in terms of "300," making the approach fresh for a sequel. A film that has some part of the story and action that happen at the same time as the previous film has been called a "sidequel."

Xerxes takes center stage in this chapter of the tale with actor Rodrigo Santoro expertly reprising the role. The film delves into the story of Xerxes from the start. It reveals how Xerxes became hungry for power and how he built alliances. One of his alliances that the film focuses on is his alliance with the fierce Artemisia against the Greek general Themistocles. The main battles in the movie pit naval commander Artemisia directly against the Greek general who is trying fiercely to keep her, Xerxes and the rest of the Persian army out of Athens. Several large battles are depicted, including the Battle of Artemisium and the Battle of Salamis. Both of these epic battles give this film the chance to display the bright blood and gore of battle that the original "300" became famous for.

Rodrigo Santoro shows dramatic range portraying the different stages of Xerxes' personality as the story progresses. While the Greek general Themistocles is working on uniting Greece against the invading Persians, Xerxes is dealing with the weight of being more than mortal. Santoro's performance as the Persian leader is an anchor for moviegoers eager to feel connected to the first film as this sequel unfolds. Romantic comedy fans might recognize Rodrigo Santoro from his roles in "What to Expect when You're Expecting" and "I Love You Phillip Morris."

Artemisia is a breath of fresh air for those viewers that want to see a female warrior politicking and battling with the best of them. Eva Green's character in the film is the key to influencing Xerxes. The film depicts Artemisia as the person who tells Xerxes to take a bath. Xerxes enters the bath as a mortal. He emerges from the bath as a god. Artemisia is also the sworn enemy of the Greek Themistocles, giving actor Sullivan Stapleton plenty of ferocity and cunning to contend with while portraying his character. Eva Green is known for her role in the film "Casino Royale" and her later appearance in the quirky "Dark Shadows," as well as the medieval miniseries "Camelot." Sullivan Stapleton is best known for his role in the film "Animal Kingdom" but is also recognized as one of the stars of the television series about British military intelligence, "Strike Back."

Technology gives moviegoers a variety of choices to heighten the viewing experience of "300: Rise of an Empire" including the ability to watch the film in 3D and at an IMAX theater in IMAX 3D. Expect references to historical battles and events in this film, but keep in mind the fact that everything is not historically accurate. The script for "300: Rise of an Empire" does not follow the typical storyline about the historical characters. Fans of the original can expect the sequel to employ a similar style of bending history for the sake of entertainment. The box office numbers for "300" seem to state that a little bending of history is acceptable as long as the results are visually stunning. The original film to this highly anticipated sequel boasted huge numbers at the box office and won nine awards.