July 19, 2014

Blu-ray Review: 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

We wanted to take a minute or two to cover this movie for two main reasons:

1- Eva Green. We can not resist her.
2- Sullivan Stapleton is the man, and we wanted to see if he could be as effective in a movie as he is on his TV Show, Cinemax's Strike Back. (He was good; not as humorous, but good.)

From the get go, this sequel to the massive 2006 hit seemed like it was going to be of Direct to Video quality...

They did release it in Theaters though, where it grossed a respectable $105+ million domestic; added to the $224+ million that it made overseas, and Rise of an Empire was a decent little hit for Warner Bros.

It's nice to see a sequel to a major Box Office hit come out and not totally suck for a change, and even make us like it enough to call it good.

The movie opens with Queen Gorgo (which we find to be a really odd name for a hot chick) telling her men about the time when General Themistocles killed Persian King Darius I, right before his son Xerxes' eyes. Xerxes is a normal guy at this point, until Eva Green urges him to go find a cave in the middle of the desert, and bathe in the unholy waters of Lake Minnetonka.

So that's how Prince got his purple powers...
Xerxes follows this advice, and emerges from the creepy waters as a God-King, which gives him both the courage and power to declare war on Greece. A Xerxes advances on the Greek city of Thermopylae, Eva Green takes the Persian Navy to destroy the Greek Navy, because she and her kin were all raped and murdered by Greek Hoplites, and she wants revenge. *She obviously wasn't murdered, just raped.

Maybe she's so angry because she has survivor's guilt?
So Persian ships take on Greek ships, which ends up hurting the Persians most of all. Pissed off about this turn of developments, Eva Green invites Themistocles to her ship to have some "let's make a treaty" sex. Before letting him even finish though, she gets all pissed off and tries to kill him, which most likely means that there will be no treaty or surrender. Or climax.

Somewhere around this point, the events of the movie 300 take place.

"So... I hear you're going to be a widow soon."
From this point on, a bunch of perfectly chiseled men run around in little more than loincloths, everyone is trying to kill everyone, and the best part of the movie happens with only a few minutes left to go. We won't spoil how the movie ends here, but suffice it to say that there will no doubt be a 300: Part 3, because they didn't really finish anything up at the end of this one.

He's still out there!
300: Rise of an Empire is part prequel, part companion piece, and part sequel, to 300. After it sets up its own story, it runs concurrent with the events of the first film, and then it deals with the aftermath of Leonidas and his 300 dying at the hands of Xerxes and his army. So it's a busy and ambitious film, but we liked how it was so directly related to the events of the first one. 

The fact that we're not rabid fans of the first 300 movie has probably skewed our reception of its sequel, at least up to a point, but we found this one to be mostly enjoyable. Rise of an Empire may not have the magical feel that 300 did back in 2006, but it had enough heart in the right place to still come off as a bit magical in its own way.

At times, this sequel felt as if it were trying to do little else than capture the mojo of the first movie, while at others, it stands solid as its own complete effort. It's pretty to look at (it looks gorgeous on Blu-ray), very violent, and boasts a really solid cast.

"This. Is, Athens!"
Eva Green is in full-on beast mode in this one as Artemisia, and we loved watching her attempt to kill every living Greek that she could, and with such passion/ferocity. We believe that her acting ability gets overlooked far too often because of her sexy hotness. Sullivan Stapleton did a good job as Themistocles as well; he may not have quite the charisma that Gerard Butler did in the first movie, but he definitely has a likable presence of his own.

Eva Green will wear armor with gold nipples, because she DGAF.
It was also great to see Lena Headey's Queen Gorgo get in on some of the bloodletting too. As a character, she was a fierce woman, and every bit the match for her late hubby Leonidas. That's probably why he loved her so much. As an actress, Headey is every bit as fierce, and that's probably why we love her so much.

If we had one complaint about this movie, and it's a big one for us, it's the use of so much CGI blood. For the most part, CGI blood looks like complete shit, and it usually takes us right out of a movie. The way that it groups together, and seems to float rather than spray... ugh. We just aren't fans of CGI blood at all.
It's probably way easier to clean up though...

"So... do you like movies about gladiators?"
If you enjoyed 300 (2006), then you'll most likely enjoy this sequel too. You won't enjoy it quite as much, mind you, because it's not quite as good as the first movie, but it's absolutely good enough to stand side by side with its predecessor as a serviceable follow up.

Also, Eva Green is naked in this, so, big bonus.


300: Rise of an Empire is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.


Eva Green. 'Nuff said.


  1. I loved 300 to it's max, but I was soooo disapointed to see the trailer for this sequel.... I mean, taking one of the most iconic phrases of Mexico just to have cool quotes was absurd (talking about "Prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas" by Zapata) :( bad bad move.

  2. I'm concurring with you completely here - a surprisingly decent sequel. Especially taking into account, that it was clear from the get-go, this film would never be able to equal or even surpass 300's greatness, this was still pretty good fun.
    As an added bonus you get to see two screen goddesses (Eva Green AND Lena Headey) for the price of one. I'm more than fine with that.

  3. We admire your tastes, Phil. Especially in Goddesses.

  4. Greece and Persia have a rich and bloody history and the film neither remains historically accurate nor makes any decent argument on why the Persians were the baddies. It’s like the Russians always being the bad guys in American video games.