I was surprised when they announced a sequel to 300. It came long after the first film released and when it came closer to release, I heard that it would take place before, during, and after the first movie. It piqued my interest even more when Sullivan Stapleton (Strike Back) and Eva Green (Casino Royale, Penny Dreadful) were cast in major roles. But does the movie hold up to its predecessor?
With both movies on Netflix, I decided to re-watch both and I can tell you that Rise of an Empire doesn’t hold up to the original 300. However, it is its own thing and while the same themes of defiance and standing up to tyranny return, the film felt different from the last, which isn’t a bad thing.
Greeks and Spartans
The original 300 followed the Spartans while this one follows the Greeks: two different people. I felt the Spartans were more aggressive and more hardy than the Greek characters in the second movie. Rise of an Empire also focused on the navy. Where brute force worked with the Leonidas’ Spartans, cunning worked with Themistocles’ Greeks.
The action scenes, though still gory and full of slow motion effects, took place upon the deck of ships. Basically, it was a game of Battleship but set in this ancient era. There was a lot of tension as the dangerous game of cat and mouse unfolded. 300: Rise of an Empire shined with its two lead actors though. Eva Green is amazing in anything she acts in while Sullivan Stapleton brought his own type of passion and aggression to his role.
Though it is a good movie, full of over the top action scenes and gore with a strong message, I can’t help but feel the original was better. Maybe it’s because the first film had more of those invasive fantasy elements that I enjoyed. Or, maybe it’s because the story felt more like a sacrifice in the preservation of freedom.
Either way, both movies are on Netflix if you want to watch them.