5 Reasons To Check Out 300: Rise Of An Empire

Zack Snyder’s comic book adaptation 300 hit screens in 2006, starring Gerard Butler as King Leonidas leading a small band of Spartan warriors against the epic force of God-King Xerxes and his invading Persian army. Snyder’s trademark style was all over the film – an emphasis on style over substance that made for stunning visuals, elaborate action sequences, unique set and costume design, but ultimately a fairly predictable story with some truly cheesy dialogue. Viewers are divided over 300 – was it a decent adaptation of the stylish comic? Or a gratuitous cheesefest? Or, perhaps, just a typical action blockbuster with enough thrills and spills to be enjoyable.

The trailer for 300: Rise Of An Empire (15) ups the ante significantly with an increasingly epic scale, bigger budget, and more extravagant action sequences. And there’s a tease of some new and exciting characters to follow into 300: BATTLE OF ARTEMESIUMthe fray. So why should you consider revisiting the 300 universe?

1. The story takes place at the same time as 300.

Where 300 followed the doomed mission of the Spartans to prevent Xerxes and his army from invading their land, 300: Rise Of An Empire follows the wider events happening concurrently. Conqueror Xerxes and his Persian empire want to take the whole of Greece so, while King Leonidas and his small band of soldiers are trying to protect the state of Sparta by preventing them from passing through the mountains, there’s a wider battle happening out on the sea between the Persian navy and the unprepared Greek fleet. Captained by Themistokles, the man who killed Xerxes’s own father, the Greeks find themselves fighting in vain on the seas against the vicious war commander, Artemisia.

2. Artemisia

Played by the wonderful Eva Green, Artemisia is a ruthless, violent warlord bent on revenge against the Greeks. Zack Snyder’s female characters are usually pretty kick-ass, but, let’s face it, he’s also known for portraying women in exploitative ways. We can only hope this creation doesn’t get the same treatment from director Noam Murro, because the trailer shows an epic female badass we rarely get to see in action films. Expect power plays, manipulation, brutal swordplay, and one-on-one combat from this one!

3. Xerxes

The God-King Xerxes and his creepy golden complexion, chained piercings, and army of monstrosities returns and this time around we get to see how he became the creature that he is. With the addition of his origin story, 300: RISE OF AN EMPIREwe also see the wider realm of Persia and some more of the lands he’s conquered, and his relationships with Artemisia and Themistokles. His unique look, hunger for ultimate power, and savage cruelty should make for an interesting dynamic to play out against Themistokles’s democracy.

4. 3D Action

It’s the age of 3D and so of course 300: Rise Of An Empire is taking full advantage of that. With stunning visuals in the same style as the original, we can expect glorious HD battle sequences with stunts, swords, spears, fire, roiling oceans, and plenty of bloodshed. With the occasional injection of ultra-violence, this film mimics Snyder’s original with a mix of fast-paced fight scenes intercut with super slow-motion action shots. Lovers of action and CGI won’t be disappointed, especially if they see the movie in IMAX!

300: BATTLE OF ARTEMESIUM5. Queen Gorgo & the Spartans

The original story isn’t lost in the wider narrative, though, and Lena Headey’s Queen Gorgo makes a return to narrate the story and show the fallout of Sparta’s loss. It’s nice to see another female character getting a bigger, more kick-ass role, but her presence in the story suggests that the battle may be even bigger than expected – as she leads Sparta’s forces into war. The always fantastic Headey gets to play a character who was an emotional lynchpin in the original film with a couple of decent one-liners, so let’s hope we see more of the same this time!

300: Rise Of An Empire (15) is released in cinemas & IMAX on 7 March 2014.