Director: Noam Murro
Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro, Hans Matheson and Lena Headey
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.
Apparently, while Spartan King Leonidas was busy taking on the whole of the Persian army—captured in Zack Snyder’s 300—Athenian general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) was busy leading an engagement of Greek city-states against the Persian navy. This other front forms the backdrop for 300: Rise of an Empire, a CGI sword-and-sandals sequel in which director Noam Murro borrows not only Snyder’s distinctive visual template but also every against-all-odds battle movie ever made.
Themistocles, the purported hero of the Battle of Marathon, finds himself in the crosshairs of Persian King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). So, Xerxes dispatches his formidable naval forces to face off against Themistocles’ ragtag vessels on the Aegean high seas. Persian fleet is commanded by Artemisia (Eva Green), a Greek whose brutal upbringing at the hands of her countrymen not only turns her into a murderous psychopath, but also leads her to align with Persia against her homeland.
The whole of 300: Rise of an Empire is a continuous loop of guttural claptrap and buckets of slow motion viscera. Stapleton is a poor man’s Gerard Butler leading a cadre of forgettable supporting brawn. What keeps the film semi-interesting is Green, the brunette beauty who not only chews her every scene but also spits it back out. Whether she’s lip locking a decapitated head or transitioning from rough sex to barechested sword wielding, Green’s bloodthirsty dominatrix act is the only unpredictable element in an otherwise boilerplate narrative.