25th Sep2014

‘300: Rise of an Empire’ Blu-ray Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, David Wenham, Jack O’Connell | Written by Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad | Directed by Noam Murro


I don’t want to spoil 300, but I think it’s fair to say it had a double-edged ending with the feeling being that there was still hope even if the war was far from over.  300: Rise of an Empire continues the story, but also prequels it and runs alongside it as the focus turns to Greece and the coming together of a nation to take on Xerxes and his Persian forces.

300: Rise of an Empire focuses mainly on Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) taking the battle to the Persian Army on the naval battlefield.  Battling against Artemisia (Eva Green) Xerxes’ (Rodrigo Santoro) trusted naval leader he must outwit her and the huge forces she has to take on his more meagre offering.  As he calls the forces of Greece to arms, his biggest battle may not be on water but in Sparta where he must convince Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) to send her navy into battle, even after Sparta’s losses in the first film.

One of the first things you have to get used to with 300: Rise of an Empire is that what you are seeing is a romanticised version of a story that has been passed down from person to person who further romanticise the legend of the actual events.  This is a tale told at the side of a campfire to build up morale and prepare for battle.  It’s full of blood, violence and even sex, but most of all it has a level of mysticism that makes men into gods and turns the battles into grandiose battles for the survival of a nation, building them up to a bigger scale than anything that probably ever happened.

In the film we see how Xerxes became a god, we see just why he decided to go to war against Greece and we see control over him that Artemisia has, and she is probably the most important character in the film.  Eva Green plays her as a total bad ass and steals every scene she is in, but to be fair the backstory that her character is given also makes her one of the most fleshed out in the film.  Even in a sex scene which does feature nudity, she is aggressive and dominant and while it could be seen as a tool for manipulation, the actual scene is more about the aggressive battle between Themistocles and Artemisia leading up to the war that is to come.  Both Artemisia and Queen Gorgo are dominant and powerful characters in the film, their sex is never questions and it’s interesting that in the documentaries included on the disc the point is made that these women did exist and did have the power that was shown in the movie.  The movie may not be historically accurate in what actually happened to them but it is based on their history.

The problem with 300: Rise of an Empire is the fact that it can’t make its mind up if it’s a prequel, a movie running at the side of 300 or an actual sequel, the answer does seem to be all three.  Once you can get your head around that it works well but there is not enough emphasis on the fact that the events of 300 are happening at the same time, as the audience you do realise it but it would have been more powerful to fully realise it sooner than you do.

I know that when 300: Rise of an Empire first came out there were mixed feelings about the movie, and the blatant way it reflects modern society and our views on going to war but if we don’t look too deeply into the hidden meanings and just realise that this is an over romanticised version of historical events then we can enjoy it for what it is and realise that Eva Green and Lena Headey are awesome in it.  On a final note on Blu-ray the film looks very pretty, especially the battles.  Strangely the blood looks very thick (and there is plenty of the CGI variety) and this gives it a certain cartoonish feel.  When there is so much gratuitous violence though I guess this is a good thing, right?

**** 4/4

300: Rise of an Empire is released on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D on September 29th.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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