Director Noam Murro’s 300: Rise Of An Empire could have been a disaster. The previous film’s style became so iconic and copied that it appeared to be nothing fresh left for Murro’s film to mine. However, 2014’s 300: Rise Of An Empire is an prequel/sidequel which has events taking place before, after and concurrently with the 2006 Gerard Butler film.
Zack Snyder’s ‘speed-ramping’ is present and correct along with the cast’s well-oiled abs but this has the added freshness of taking the battle onto the high seas. It’s a brave move as Murro and company could have simply coasted by having another 300 men face more unbeatable odds in an attempt to recapture past box office glories.
A wise move was the introduction of Eva Green’s Artemisia. The original 300 lacked a strong villain. Sure, that film, like this one had Santoro’s Xerxes but he was peripheral to the film’s central action. Murro puts Green front and centre as Stapleton’s foil, adding a romantic angle that was missing from Snyder’s thinly disguised homoerotic affair. Although you still get plenty of muscly men in loin-cloths if that’s your thing.
300: Rise of An Empire is a visually stunning piece of big budget filmmaking. Admittedly the film’s style doesn’t have the ‘wow factor’ that the original 300 had back in 2006, but this is a dynamic and well composed actioner. It takes enough risks in its story telling to make it feel like an organic follow-up rather than a cheap carbon copy of Zack Snyder’s now seminal graphic novel adaptation.
From a budget of $110 million, 300: Rise Of An Empire grossed $106 million in the United States and $337.5 million globally in 2014.