'300: Rise Of An Empire' Review Roundup: Epic Sequel Doesn't Fare Well With Critics
300: Rise of an Empire, which returns the graphic novel aesthetics of 2006’s 300, follows the story of the Frank Miller comic about Xerxes – a mortal-turned-god who teams up with Persian navy commander Artemisia to invade Greece.
Rise of an Empire is set around the same time as 300, which offered a fictionalized take on the Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae. Rise tackles the Persian battles that occurred before, during and after the Battle of Thermopylae. The Battle of Salamis and the Battle of the Marathon play major parts in the film.
As with 300, Rise's allure has more to do with its visual effects than its plot. Much of the film was brought to life through the use of CGI effects, in which the creators could create the most effective visuals of the violence and blood, making it as dramatic and eye-catching as possible.
The follow-up graphic novel adaptation returns Lena Headey and adds Rodrigo Santoro (Xerxes), Eva Green (Artemisia) and Sullivan Stapleton (Themistokles) to the cast.
Critics Review 300: Rise of An Empire
300: Rise of An Empire didn’t impress many critics. In general, the violence and blood-sport were deemed to be overdone and off-putting; the nudity, much like the violence, was too gratuitous to be taken in as entertainment. However, the film was not without its fans, who enjoyed the second trip through the gory comic.
“There is much grinding of teeth, and mauling of history, and anachronistic use of gunpowder, until we plug our ears and desperately pray to the gods of Olympus, or the brothers of Warner, that they might make an end. […] What lessons can we take from its gleeful xenophobia, nudity, violence and gore? That if it makes enough drachmas, not all the sons and daughters of Zeus can save us from another.” – Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger
"If there’s such a thing as torture porn — and there is — this is either blood porn or battle porn or violence porn, absolutely some kind of porn, overwhelming and numbing and certainly mindless. If the excuse is war is hell or life is brutal, well, wallowing in such excess is every bit as hellish and brutish. Rise makes 300 look comparatively subtle, and that was likely its intent. The reasoning behind that intent is what’s worrisome. Must we feed the beast such entrails?” – Tom Long, The Detroit News
"As much performance art as movie, 300: Rise of an Empire unfolds as beautiful, bloody, slow-motion machismo. Torsos bared, swords flashing, another 300 rock the leather skirts and loincloths with pounding, passionate music perfectly underscoring this latest round of the "beautiful death" the ancient Greeks were so poetic about.
Though it is hard to replicate the freshness of the first, Rise is almost as visually stunning as 2006's 300. […] This time, there is more to it than scantily clad men mud wrestling to hone their battle skills.” – Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
“You want spectacle? By Zeus, 300: Rise of an Empire will give you spectacle. All you can handle, and more besides. The picture is packed with vertiginous vistas of heaving seas and roiling storm clouds and landscapes of carnage and mayhem and blood. Above all, blood, gushing and geysering. […] Rise of an Empire is not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s very impressive in its single-minded dedication to creating a moviegoing experience designed to totally engulf its audience. It’s absurd but undeniably memorable.” – Soren Andersen, Seattle Times
300: Rise of An Empire is curently in wide release.
– Chelsea Regan