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Film review: 300: Rise of an Empire, Historical fantasy revisited

Philip Cu-Unjieng - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Directed by Noam Murro, written and produced by the director of the 2007-released 300, Zack Snyder, and based on the Frank Miller graphic novel Xerxes, 300: Rise of an Empire relates events concurrent to what transpired in the first film.

If 300 gave us the story of the Spartans being betrayed and succumbing to the Persian invaders, the new film takes us to a different theater of battles — the naval encounters between the Greeks of Athens versus the Persians. Shot in the same ultra-violent, highly-stylized manner that characterized the first film that could be described as letting loose Tarantino in ancient Greece, playing with slow-mo and accelerated framing in equal measures, Rise of an Empire offers pretty much of the same, and while eminently watchable, does lack a truly strong center — as we got with Gerard Butler’s King Leonidas in 300.

This time, we have Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) and Artemisia (Eva Green) as the main combatants, one an Athenian general, and the other a woman warrior, Greek-born, but now battling under the Persian flag. Mixing naval and maritime exploits with fierce hand-to-hand, close-quarters combat, the screen becomes an iridescent canvas for gore, blood and guts, surreal underwater sequences, flashing blades and a lot of musculature.

To commend the film, we have these action sequences, full-scale naval encounters and war strategies of the era, and a villainess (the wonderful Eva Green) that truly holds our attention.

As in the first installment, the series has been the closest we’ve achieved in effectively bringing the canon of Miller graphic novels to glorious cinematic life (The Watchmen being another Miller graphic novel that became a Snyder project).

Miller himself was involved with the screenplay of 300 but alas, is not similarly brought in for this film. So while the concept does fly, with the historical context and treatment replicated from the first film, my strongest reservation with the second installment has to do with the script, or the seeming lack of it. Even the one great exhortation speech we’ve come to expect from films of this genre falls flat, mired in clichés and half-baked utterances. So if you loved 300 for the lurid, over-the-top-action sequences, there is more of the same stylized executions here, and the film succeeds in that category.

EVA GREEN FILM FRANK MILLER GERARD BUTLER GREEKS OF ATHENS KING LEONIDAS NOAM MURRO SULLIVAN STAPLETON ZACK SNYDER
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