Movie Review: 300: Rise of an Empire

300 rise of an empire movie still

Take away the visual effects and ‘300: Rise of an Empire’ could’ve been nothing but an ordinary, cliched movie

The much anticipated prequel-sequel to Zack Snyder’s iconic action fantasy flick 300 (2007) is finally out but it’s nothing more than pure disappointment. While there are flashbacks of the past on the Battle of Marathon and the making of Persian god-king Xerxes, 300: Rise of an Empire is mostly set after the events of the first film where King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and the brave 300 Spartans are finally defeated by Xerxes and his outnumbering army in the Battle of Thermopylae.

Let’s first go through the things worth complimenting about this film – the CGI sets and environment, the gorgeous Eva Green’s strong performance as the intelligent and skillful but wicked Artemisia, the villain who’s motivated by her personal vendetta against Greece, and the 360 angle-turning, one-take-like action sequences. Not bad for Noam Murro, who replaced Zack Snyder as the director without much of a directing experience, but while the film’s stylistically similar, with the no-longer unique visual effects, it’s still far from being as fun, charming and satisfying as the first film.

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The blame for this disappointment can perhaps be shared with Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, who co-written this boring, cliched script. Although it has some pointlessly sick moments and apparently an awesome sex scene (unfortunately censored in Malaysia), it lacks of memorable, iconic, corny sequences that its predecessor had.

Focusing largely on Greek History’s naval Battle of Salamis during the second Persian invasion of Greece, the general audience (particularly non-Chinese) might enjoy the tactical battles on the sea between Themistokles (played by Sullivan Stapleton) with his small Greek army and Artemisia with her Persian forces, but it may not be as impressive for those who’s very familiar with or seen adaptations of the (Romance of the) Three Kingdoms, like John Woo’s Red Cliff (2008-2009). In fact, I thought maybe they even ripped off from the Chinese war epic but I wouldn’t dare say this with conviction since I don’t exactly know the history.

300 Rise of an Empire Artemisia Eva Green movie stills - Zhu Ge Liang meme

Fans may be displeased with how uninvolving the Spartans are in this sequel. The storytelling and the new protagonists also failed to deliver as much machoness and upliftingness as the predecessor film, probably largely caused by the casting of Sullivan Stapleton, who clearly doesn’t have as much presence and charm as Gerard Butler. One of the other huge disappointments to me is the briefness and rushed development on the backstory of god-king Xerxes. Why couldn’t they just make the film a bit longer than 103 minutes, I wonder. Budget problem, perhaps.

Xerxes meme - 300 Rise of an Empire movie stills

Simply put, the loads of violent, gory, blood-filled action sequences with plenty of overused slow motion effects are just not sufficient to make it entertainingly worthwhile anymore as some of us may have already seen enough of that in the seasons of the Spartacus TV series.

What I would’ve named the film: “100% = 15% Prequel + 35% Sequel + 50% Slomo Effects & Blood”

Censorship in Malaysia: For the media screening held at 1U TGV in IMAX, all scenes with sex, rape and female nudity are completely cut but most violence and gore are kept intact. I guess our beloved film censorship board still thinks that letting audience above 18 years old see boobs is worse than letting them see people decapitating heads, chopping limbs, etc.

To watch in 3D? Yes, after all, the visuals are the film’s main feature. The audio is quite impactful as well. However, you might not get the same level of experience watching it in normal 3-D viewing instead of in IMAX 3-D.

Second opinion: It’s not my girlfriend’s type of movie and she didn’t watch 300 but she said she appreciates the “great stunning visuals”.

Verdict: It would’ve been more entertaining to watch the first film again instead of this.

Rating: 2 / 5

300 rise of an empire movie poster malaysia - LARGE HQBased on: Graphic novel “Xerxes” by Frank Miller

Rated: 18
Genre: Action fantasy
Running Time: 100 minutes
Director: Noam Murro
Screenplay by: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad
Cast: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Rodrigo Santoro

Malaysia Release Date: March 6th 2014
Local Distributor: Warner Bros Pictures Malaysia
Studios: Legendary Pictures, Cruel and Unusual Films

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  1. benjamin vai

    zooom zooomm zoom meme says it all.

    I actually felt that the "guy whose name is very hard to promounce" made everyone looked really weak. The persian army also looked like they suck at sword fights.

  2. Ivan Chan

    For a movie that is supposed to be based on Xerxes, Xerxes seems to be quite kelefeh in this movie hahaha.

    I would name this movie Artemisia instead. LOL

  3. Nana Eddy

    I actually kinda enjoyed it. I liked history (weird, I know), so this epic kind of movie appeals to me. and yes, the visuals are awesome. But I do agree Xerxes needs more than what it is shown. And I like stapleton. the other guy's character is too macho :p

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