BY Jen T. Tuazon
Ever wondered what it’s like to watch the iconic movie 300 in 3D? Wonder no more, thanks to the seven-years-in-the-making sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire.
It was in 2007 when 300 first shocked and awed with its intense, bloody, no-holds-barred battle scenes. More movies have boldly followed since, and, thanks to technology, moviegoers for the last seven years have had more than their fair share of films (and even TV shows) with similarly over-the-top special effects.
So it’s normal to be skeptical of the shock-and-awe potential of a 300 sequel almost a decade later. One would expect that without the novelty, what were once mind-blowing scenes will no longer impress and fascinate.
Somehow though Rise of an Empire manages to deliver. Though a “sequel,” Rise of an Empire actually takes place simultaneously with 300‘s Battle of Thermopylae, where King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 299 other Spartans were battling it out with Persian god-King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). In Rise of an Empire, the spotlight shifts to the Athenians, led by Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), in their own efforts to defend Greece from the Persians, specifically the faction led by Xerxes’ right hand: the ruthless, vengeful naval commander Artemisia (Eva Green).
Read more on Eva Green’s fierce take on Artemisia here.
Rise of an Empire made the battle scenes refreshing by choosing to hold most of them at sea. This made for a very satisfying 3D experience, transporting the viewer right into the Aegean Sea. As with its predecessor, the sequel had a lot of slow-motion-fast-forward-slow-motion-again dramatic fight sequences. The film also did not scrimp on the brutality and bloodshed: prepare to squirm in your seats all throughout the movie.
Sadly though, there were at least two scenes which were so obviously cut: one during an intimate confrontation between Artemisia and Themistocles and another involving Xerxes, Artemisia and Ephialtes (the hunchback who betrayed the Spartans in 300). I guess we’ll just have to wait for the DVD to see these deleted scenes.
Read more about Rodrigo Santoro’s character, Xerxes, here.
Overall, Rise of an Empire makes for a visually exhilarating cinematic experience. 300 die-hard fans will be happy that the sequel at least matched its predecessor. The movie however lives and dies by its special effects. So if you want Rise of an Empire to be worth your while, watch it in 3D (preferably IMAX) or don’t watch it at all.
‘300: Rise of an Empire,’ distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, opens on March 6, 2014 in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D, 2D and 30mm format.
Check our list of movies showing this March here.