Film Trailer Review: 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

Lena Headey and Eva Green star in this sword and sandals sequel.

The action film called 300 was directed by Zack Snyder and based on a popular comic by Frank Miller. Now a sequel to the film is in the works called 300: Rise of an Empire and some of the characters from the first film will return. Lena Headey returns as Queen Gorgo, the wife of Spartan King Leonidas played by Gerard Butler in 300. Rodrigo Santoro also returns to play Xerxes the Persian king attempting to invade Greece. David Wenham will have a role in the film too. He played Dilios, the one eyed warrior and narrator of the story in the first movie. The film will also have plenty of newcomers including French actress Eva Green. She stars in the film as Artemisia I of Caria, a queen and ally of Xerxes. Eva Green enjoys playing tough women who can kick ass so she is a good choice for the role.

300: Rise of an Empire will focus on a naval battle that took place at the same time as the battle of Thermopylae. King Leonidas and his 300 merry men were defeated by Xerxes at the end of the Thermopylae conflict in the first film. During that time a Greek general and former politician called Themistocles (played by Sullivan Stapleton) fought in a large-scale naval battle against the Persian fleet. This conflict is known as the battle of Artemisium. The Greek city-states knew Xerxes was a serious threat so they formed an alliance to face the invading Persians.

Fans of the first movie will enjoy the trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire. The director Noam Murro has used the same visual style and fight choreography that made 300 so popular. He is also fond of action scenes filmed in slow motion like Zack Snyder. This sequel matches its predecessor in both style and tone so it seems familiar even though the events are different. The action is very cheesy though and the style of the film is now rather cliche. The carnage is also narrated by Queen Gorgo who appears to be giving the obligatory pre-battle speech to an army of Spartans. This is similar to how the narrative was presented in 300 where Dilios narrated the story of Leonidas and his men to a similar crowd. The exploits of Leonidas were then shown in flashback. The trailer accomplishes its objective and should drawn in fans of the series and TV shows like Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Those who find the whole series cheesy and silly will probably not enjoy the trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire.

Xerxes is depicted here as a decadent and vain giant of a man. He towers over everyone as he is much taller than all the other characters. Rodrigo Santoro chews the scenery as the character and he is certainly memorable in his performance. These films simplify the conflict and depict the warriors as caricatures. The good guys are macho and butch while the bad guys look strange. In 300 Xerxes had an army of monsters and mutants that fought for him. In that respect the film is true to the comic book it is based on. Everything is done in broad strokes without much detail which is a shame.

Action films like this often favor style over substance and it looks like 300: Rise of an Empire will use that familiar formula. The trailer doesn’t reveal any plot details and focuses entirely on spectacle. The names of the main characters are not revealed either and the importance of the naval battle in the wider conflict is not emphasized. Adding those things would of made the trailer more gripping and given the viewer something to think about. What the film appears to offer is pure cheese and over the top action. Some will like that and others will not.

If the film receives some good advertising it may do well and attract some action fans in cinemas. The poster for the movie stands out as it depicts Themistocles standing ready for battle as a blood red wave looms over him. It is the kind of poster design that will turn a few heads in the cinema. It also tells the viewer exactly what to expect from the film.

The film will be released next year on March 7th. Have a look at the trailer and let us know what you think.

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