Leonidas wasn’t the only one to fight the Persians… Over in Athens, Themistokles is also rallying defenders to the cause…
Set before, during and after the original 300 movie, Rise of an Empire is a very belated attempt to continue the franchise, demonstrating a rather large disregard for the factual history and an equally large love for gore, slow motion beheadings, and assorted other stylised acts of violence. The most incredible thing about it is that it’s a 15 certificate movie!
It features one of the most over the top performances from Eva Green that’s ever likely to grace the screen: as Artemisia, the former Greek sex slave who rises to be King Xerxes’ prime strategist and warrior, she uses every conceivable facial expression to tell the story – as well as every other part of her body. You can’t take your eyes off her when she’s on screen (not always for the right reasons!). There are cameos from members of the 300 cast and a few loose ends from that movie tied up, but Lena Headey’s Queen Gorgo doesn’t feel like quite the same person as in the first film – notably, we don’t really see her grieving.
Stylistically, the movie emulates its predecessor, with the actors’ performances simply one tool in the director’s arsenal. The designs are highly detailed – the frames often as intricate as the best graphic novel page – and the scope is suitably epic, but because it’s covering a much wider swathe of history, it does occasionally feel as if it’s a little unfocussed.
Verdict: Not as strong as 300, but an epic bloodthirsty tale. 7/10