I always say that Zack Snyder is a master at turning comic books into movies. And disregarding the historical inaccuracy, 300 is a really good comic book too. Zack Snyder’s 300 was driven by passion, and as a result, it turned out to be a movie everyone seems to love. But unfortunately, 300: Rise of an Empire did not share the same noble goal as its predecessor, and it turned out to be a cheap attempt to Seize Your Money.
The movie starts with a flashback to the battle of Marathon as Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) kills the Persian King Darius. Then we witness how Xerxes is transformed from a mere boy mourning his father into the arrogant ‘God King’. Of course, it was Artemisia’s (Eva Green) plan. Then the Persians attack the Greeks and Themistokles makes a stand on the Aegean sea while Leonidas makes his at the Hot Gates.
I didn’t expect much from Rise of an Empire and I was still surprised. I thought it would be a bad sequel with cheap directing and cheaper visuals. However, it turned out to be what I least expected: catastrophic storytelling with ambitious directing. I will not blame director Noam Murro for a second because what he did was try to reach the same level as Zack Snyder, and considering the pressure he was under and his lack of experience, he still pulled out a surprisingly good job. It wasn’t great directing, but it wasn’t near being the worst, either. Also, the visuals were pretty impressive and the camera moved well.
The disappointment comes in the storytelling: I expected a decent job since it’s Zack Snyder and Frank Miller (the man who wrote the 300 comic book) doing the writing. Snyder tried to pull off a Man of Steel, with lots of flashbacks and time lapses, and Miller tried to continue his representation of the Greeks’ epic war with the Persians. But unfortunately, they try and try until they turn this movie into an absolute mess. Just when you come to think that you’re reaching the exciting part, the story slows down the pace and throws in a flashback or a cheesy dialogue. At some points even, the movie felt like a hardcore romance.
And to make things worse, Sullivan Stapleton had to replace Gerard Butler as the star in this movie. He lacked the charisma needed to play a Greek hero. You never feel he’s on the edge of battle or at the end of one. His eyes never burn like a leader’s eyes should, and his shouts aren’t loud enough for the soldiers in the back to hear them. He had abs, but is it really enough?
With everything being said, you should know that Rise of An Empire tried hard to achieve what 300 achieved, but it fails. Although it was generally bad, it still had few good elements: Eva Green was hotter than ever, and she’s not afraid to show it.