Sheba Wood ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
300: Rise of an Empire, the sequel to the 2006 film 300, hit theaters Friday. Audiences were hesitant when news first came of a second installment to the lukewarm original. Since everyone died at the end of 300, what more was there to say about the conflict between Greece and Persia? Fans of the first movie were pleasantly surprised to see that instead of a mere continuation from where 300 ended, they were treated to an alternate perspective of the war.
Rise of an Empire is from the perspectives of Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton), a celebrated Athenian soldier, and Artemisia (Eva Green), the General of the Persian Navy and main manipulator to the “God-King” Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). The story is told in the same manner as 300 by using a narrator with primary and secondary experience, Queen Gorgo (The wife of the fallen Spartan King, played by Lena Headey). The story provides some background on the beginning of the war, but mainly focuses on the toils of other Greeks and Persians away from the isolated battle of Sparta. Audiences receive a more universal view of this world of glorified war, thanks to the pair of films.
The pair that this movie will owe its success to is the pair of Eva Green and Sullivan Stapleton. While Stapleton (Gangster Squad) is fairly unknown, his approach to his character was refreshing and complex which held the attention of the audience. Eva Green, known for roles in films such as Casino Royale, Dark Shadows, and The Golden Compass, has often played strong-willed characters, and this movie is no different. Her phenomenal performance was beyond captivating and she brings the very essence of her character into her acting. Action films usually leave women as damsels simply awaiting their men’s safe return, being kidnapped, or mourning with a brief moment of bravery. Green’s character is determined, vicious, respected, and intelligent as well as strikingly beautiful. Other film makers need to pay close attention to this movie for future reference.
The making of the film clearly drew upon the past, however, which spoke to the fanbase that was acquired from 300. The color vibrancy is rich in depth, the blood from the battles oozes like black and red lava spewing from a volcano erupting in slow motion, and the fight scenes are not only epic but choreographed well. This movie has clearly avoided the “curse of the sequel,” and based upon the fearless cliffhanger ending, there would be shock if a third installment were not released. If audiences are searching for a raging thrill at the movies, definitely consider this film as a top choice.
Overall Grade: B+