One of the biggest mistakes that “300: Rise of an Empire” makes is that it insists on imitating Zack Snyder’s style of filmmaking. Whether if by choice or by the order of the studios, director Naom Murro spends more time in the movie trying to copy Zack Snyder’s excessive slow motion and blurry flourishes, rather than actually trying to help this sequel stand out from its predecessor. Murro is so focused on convincing audiences that it’s legitimate extension of the original film, that he can never solve the movie’s biggest problem: The fact that it’s so utterly mind numbingly dull. The movie spends a lot of time in the first twenty minutes reminding us of the first film that it can never really build momentum for its own narrative.
Gerard Butler has a small cameo, and Lena Headey returns once again as Queen Gorgo, who is now licking her wounds from the defeat of the Spartans and gathers her army around her. To tell them a forty minute long story of Xerxes. “Rise of the Empire” consists of flashback after flashback, with endless exposition, and droning back story, all of which are supposed to be relevant to the actual events occurring before us. But since the movie is only about a hundred minutes long, there’s only about fifty minutes of actual storytelling and narrative progression. The rest of the run time is just the origins of the characters we see before us. Who is Themistocles of Athens? Why, join us for thirty minutes of his life story, just so you can understand that he is the protagonist of the film. Who could Xerxes possibly be? Why, Queen Gorgo will fill you in on the journey and life of Xerxes, from the death of his father right down to his transformation in to a literal golden god.
What about Xerxes’ psychotic naval commander and chief assassin Artemisia? Don’t worry, the writers bring you along on a twenty minute look at her life story and how she became a vicious warrior. Truth be told, the only character’s flashbacks I cared about were Artemisia’s, because Eva Green is the only individual that provides a lifelike performance. Her turn here as the gorgeous but deadly Artemisia is dazzling, and I would have loved if the movie focused on her rise and downfall, entirely. Green steals the movie from everyone here. “Rise of an Empire” is otherwise a dreadfully tedious and forgettable epilogue to “300” that fails to capture any of the real pop culture resonance or appeal of the original movie. Save for Eva Green’s dynamic performance, and the bouts of brief hyper violence, “300: Rise of an Empire” is a terrible, boring, and lackluster follow up to what was a serviceable action entry.
Featured on the Blu-Ray/DVD combo is “Behind the Scenes: The 300 Effect” a thirty minute power point style featurette with segments titled “3 Days in Hell,” “Brutal Artistry,” “A New Breed of Hero” and “Taking the Battle to Sea,” all of which discuss the sequel’s production, the pitch from Frank Miller, the look at visual effects, and the bloody carnage. “Real Leaders & Legends” is a twenty three minute look at the film’s very loose depiction of historical events, and how historians pair the actual events with the film’s more sensational versions. “Women Warriors” is a twelve minute look at the female warriors of the movie including Artemisia and Queen Gorgo. “Savage Warships” is an eleven minute look at the ships of the Greek Navy and their strategies, as well as the sets for the film, and advancements made by the Greeks during war. “Becoming a Warrior” is a five minute segment featuring the cast training for their roles, which include sword fighting and hand to hand combat.