When Zak Snyder’s 300 first came out, there was a lot of hoopla about the hot-panted musclemen going slow-mo on the battlefield against creepy god-king Xerxes. Such was the collective orgasm, a sequel was virtually inevitable. Hence: 300 Rise of an Empire. It goes something like this….. As King Leonidas and his 299 mates stop the Xerxes land invasion at the Hot Gates, the Greek hero Themistokles (snag toothed Aussie Sullivan Stapleton (below) – so ripped he looks like the ill-gotten lovechild of Denis O’Hare and Corne Krige) is fending off a massive water-borne invasion out at sea. The Persian navy is lead by the fierce Goth-camp princess Artemisia, Xerxes’ adopted sister, a vicious bitch with vengeance issues. Cue the bloodshed.
Rise of an Empire doesn’t come close to the thrill of 300. It’s overblown, brutal, macho (yes, even with Eva Green) and hyper-violent, and it lurches from bloody confrontation to confrontation without much glee. Having said that though, it’s not entirely without merit. The fight choreography is excellent in design and execution, the manflesh on display is beefy (if inconsequential), and the leads are at least committed to their roles. Setting aside it makes 300 look like a History Channel documentary, it’s actually enjoyable enough for what it is.