The first 300 was an uncompromising paean to glorious graphic-novel imagery, infused with music-video sensibility and CGI magic. Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s bloody tale, which chronicles the Spartans’ noble defeat at Thermopylae in 480 B.C., splattered the box office in 2007, grossing $201.6 million and making Gerard Butler’s abs more famous than Gerard Butler. 300: Rise of the Empire is a prequel, sequel, and side-quel to that tale.
Butler’s King Leonidas is dead, but Athens’ general Themistokles (Strike Back‘s Sullivan Stapleton) rallies the fractured Greeks at sea against the invading Persian armada, led by Artemisia, a vengeful Greek orphan played with relish by Eva Green. The pre-se-side-quel explains her defection to the Persians, as well as her stepbrother’s (Rodrigo Santoro) transformation from heir to the throne into the giant golden god Xerxes after his father is killed in battle.
Snyder co-wrote the script, but he handed the camera to Noam Murro, a commercial actor who also directed Smart People. That 2008 dramedy, starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen Page, was short on decapitations and homo-eroticism, but he’s clearly up to speed on both for this assignment. “Murro uses 3-D to up the wow factor even further [than Snyder’s razzle-dazzle Spartan bloodfest],” writes EW’s Chris Nashawaty. “There’s so much crimson gore flying off the screen you feel as if you should be wearing a tarp like the folks in the front row of a Gallagher show.”
To paraphrase Leonidas, “This! Is! SPARTA!… Sorta.” Same splashy violence, with a dash of S&M that will surely land Green multiple MTV Movie Award nominations. Click below to see what some of the nation’s leading film critics are saying about Rise of an Empire before heading to the theater. READ FULL STORY