300: Rise of an Empire
|300: Rise of an Empire|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Noam Murro|
|Based on||Xerxes (unpublished)
by Frank Miller
|Music by||Junkie XL|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||102 minutes|
300: Rise of an Empire is a 2014 American action film directed by Noam Murro. It is a follow-up to the 2006 film 300, taking place before, during, and after the events of that film with a fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Salamis. It is based on the as-yet-unreleased Frank Miller graphic novel Xerxes. Zack Snyder, who directed and co-wrote the original film, acts as writer and producer on Rise of an Empire.
The cast includes Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro, David Wenham, and Andrew Tiernan reprising their roles from the first film, alongside Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, and Jack O'Connell. It was released in 3D and IMAX 3D on March 7, 2014. The composer for the film is Junkie XL.
Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) tells her men about the Battle of Marathon, in which King Darius I (Yigal Naor) of Persia was killed by General Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) of Athens. Darius' son, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), witnesses his father's death, and is advised to not continue the war, since "only the gods could defeat the Greeks". Darius' naval commander, Artemisia (Eva Green), claims that Darius' last words were in fact a challenge and sends Xerxes on a journey through the desert. Xerxes finally reaches a cave and bathes in an otherworldly liquid, emerging as the "God-King". He returns to Persia and declares war on Greece.
As Xerxes' forces advance towards Thermopylae, Themistocles meets with the council and convinces them to provide him with a fleet to engage the Persians at sea. Themistocles then travels to Sparta to ask King Leonidas for help, but is informed by Dilios (David Wenham) that Leonidas is consulting the Oracle, and Gorgo is reluctant to side with the Greeks. Themistocles later reunites with his old friend Scyllas (Callan Mulvey), who infiltrated the Persian troops and learned Artemisia was born Greek, but defected to Persia after Greek soldiers killed her parents and raped her when she was a child. She earned her place as a naval commander by brutally killing several of Darius' enemies.
Themistocles leads his men, which include Scyllas, Scyllas' son Calisto (Jack O'Connell) and Themistocles' right-hand man Aesyklos (Hans Matheson) to the Aegean Sea. They ram their ships into the Persian ships and charge them, slaughtering several soldiers before retreating. The following day, the Greeks force one of the Persian ships into a crevice, where it becomes struck, and charge the other ships, killing more Persians. Impressed with Themistocles' skills, Artemisia has him brought onto her ship, where they have sex. She offers him a place in her army, but he refuses, causing her to swear revenge.
The Persians spill tar into the sea and send suicide bombers to swim to and board the Greek ships with their flame bombs. Artemisia and her men fire flaming arrows and torches to ignite the tar, but Themistocles manages to kill one of the soldiers, who falls into the tar carrying a torch, causing ships from both sides to explode. Themistocles is thrown into the sea by an explosion and nearly drowns before being rescued by Calisto, and stands by Scyllas' side as he succumbs to his injuries. Believing Themistocles to be dead, Artemisia and her forces retreat.
Themistocles learns that Leonidas and the 300 have been killed by Xerxes and returns to Athens to confront Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan), the Spartan traitor, who reveals that Xerxes plans to attack Athens, and is regretful of his actions, welcoming death. Themistocles spares him instead, so he can warn Xerxes that the Greek forces are gathering at Salamis, and then visits Gorgo in Sparta while she is mourning Leonidas to ask for her help, but she is too overcome with grief. Before leaving, Themistocles returns Leonidas' sword, which he took from Ephialtes, that had earlier stolen it, and urges Gorgo to avenge Leonidas.
In Athens, Xerxes' army is laying waste when Ephialtes arrives to deliver Themistocles' message. Upon learning he is alive, Artemisia leaves to ready her troops for battle, against Xerxes' wishes. The Greek ships crash into the Persians ships, and the two armies battle, beginning the decisive Battle of Salamis. Themistocles and Artemisia fight, and Themistocles overpowers her.
Gorgo had been narrating the tale to her army, and leads them to assist in the battle alongside other allied armies, outnumbering the Persians. Themistocles urges Artemisia to surrender, but she tries to kill him and is stabbed through the stomach. With her dying breath, she sees Xerxes turning his back on her as he retreats. Themistocles and Gorgo take a moment to silently acknowledge one another's alliance as the rest of Artemisia's army charges. The two then charge at the opposing Persians.
- Sullivan Stapleton as Themistocles
- Eva Green as Artemisia
- Caitlin Carmichael as 8 Year Old Artemisia
- Jade Chynoweth as 13 Year Old Artemisia
- Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo
- Rodrigo Santoro as King Xerxes, God-King of Persia.
- Jack O'Connell as Calisto
- Hans Matheson as Aeschylus
- Callan Mulvey as Scyllias
- David Wenham as Dilios
- Andrew Tiernan as Ephialtes
- Yigal Naor as Darius I
- Andrew Pleavin as Daxos
- Ben Turner as General Artaphernes
- Ashraf Barhom as General Bandari
- Christopher Sciueref as General Kashani
- Peter Mensah as Artemisia's trainer / Persian Messenger
- Gerard Butler as King Leonidas (archival footage)
- Michael Fassbender as Stelios (archival footage)
In June 2008, producers Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton, and Bernie Goldmann revealed that work had begun on a sequel to 300. Legendary Pictures announced that Frank Miller, who wrote the 1998 comic book limited series on which the film 300 was based, was writing a follow-up graphic novel, and Zack Snyder, co-screenwriter and director of 300, was interested in directing the adaptation, but instead chose to develop and direct the Superman reboot Man of Steel. Noam Murro directed instead, while Snyder produced. The film was centered on the Greek leader Themistocles, portrayed by Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton.
During pre-production, the film was titled 300: Battle of Artemisium (although this was widely misreported as "Battle of Artemisia"); the film was retitled 300: Rise of an Empire in September 2012.
Principal photography commenced in early July 2012 at the Nu Boyana Film Studios in Sofia, Bulgaria. On May 10, 2013, it was announced the film's release date would be pushed back from August 2, 2013, until March 7, 2014.
300: Rise of an Empire received mixed reviews from critics. On film aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently holds a 43% rating, with an average critics score of 4.9/10, based on reviews from 136 critics. The site's consensus states: "It's bound to hit some viewers as an empty exercise in stylish gore, and despite a gonzo starring performance from Eva Green, 300: Rise of an Empire is a step down from its predecessor." On another aggregation website Metacritic, it has a 47/100 score (indicating "mixed or average reviews"), based on reviews from 30 critics.
Todd Gilchrist of The Wrap gave the film a negative review, saying "Rise of an Empire lacks director Snyder's shrewd deconstruction of cartoonish hagiography, undermining the glorious, robust escapism of testosterone-fueled historical reenactment with an underdog story that's almost too reflective to be rousing." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, saying "Although Gerard Butler's star has significantly fallen due to the 17 mediocre films he's made since 300, it must be admitted that he's missed here." Scott Foundas of Variety gave the film a positive review, saying "This highly entertaining time-filler lacks the mythic resonances that made 300 feel like an instant classic, but works surprisingly well on its own terms." Guy Lodge of Time Out gave the film three out of five stars, saying "It's flesh and carnage that the audience is here to see, and Murro delivers it by the glistening ton, pausing only for stray bits of backstory." Kyle Smith of the New York Post gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The film works as a high-tech boy-fantasy successor to Conan the Barbarian." Soren Anderson of The Seattle Times gave the film three out of five stars, saying "Rise of an Empire is not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it's very impressive in its single-minded dedication to creating a moviegoing experience designed to totally engulf its audience." Richard Roeper gave the film four and a half stars out of five, calling the film "A triumph of production design, costumes, brilliantly choreographed battle sequences and stunning CGI." James Rocchi of Film.com gave the film a zero out of ten, saying "Long on crimson spurts of blood but low on character, larded with production value but bereft of any other kind of it, 300: Rise of an Empire is a 3D joke."
James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The lack of a creative driver behind the film leads to a level of fundamental dissatisfaction. The movie delivers all the necessary elements but their impact is dull." Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News gave the film one out of five stars, saying "The film winds up looking like an ashen video game. It's even more muddy in IMAX and 3-D." Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gave the film two out of four stars, saying "300: Rise of an Empire plays like a collaboration between the Marquis de Sade and Michael Bay. Or maybe the History Channel and the Saw franchise." Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the film one out of four stars, saying "Rise of an Empire is no fun at all - even those famous six-pack abs from 300 seem to be missing a can or two in this desperate attempt to up an already dubious ante." Drew Hunt of the Chicago Reader gave the film a negative review, saying "The slow-motion battle scenes are technically impressive and occasionally elegant, but there's enough machismo here to choke a thousand NFL locker rooms." Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film a positive review, saying "Rise of an Empire may strike some as an improvement on the first film, if only for two reasons: naval warfare and the glorious absurdity of Eva Green." Scott Bowles of USA Today gave the film two out of four stars, saying "For anyone looking for a sense of script (forget plausibility), Empire is a Trojan horse."
Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, saying "The spectacularly brutal fighting is the film's main calling card, and in that Rise of an Empire doesn't disappoint." Nicolas Rapold of The New York Times gave the film a mixed review, saying "The naval collisions and melees play out in panel-like renderings that are bold and satisfying for the first half-hour but lack the momentum and bombastic je ne sais quoi of 300." David Hiltbrand of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "With its slo-mo ultraviolence, gushers of blood, impressive 3-D effects, homoerotic subtext, and self-important plot, this is a fan boy's fantasy, a four-star wonderment." Tom Long of The Detroit News gave the film a D, saying "300: Rise of an Empire is a bloodbath and not much else." Adam Nayman of The Globe and Mail gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "An extension of the 300 universe, like an add-on content pack for a video game." Mark Jenkins of NPR gave the film a negative review, saying "If the movie's action recalls video games, the dramatically artificial lighting suggests 1980s rock videos. Indeed, Rise of an Empire is so campy that it might work better as a musical." Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "There is much grinding of teeth, and mauling of history, and anachronistic use of gunpowder, until we plug our ears and desperately pray to the gods of Olympus, or the brothers of Warner, that they might make an end."
As of March 9, 2014, 300: Rise of an Empire has grossed $45,050,000 in North America, and $87,800,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $132,850,000. In North America, the film opened to number one in its first weekend, with $45,050,000.
Paul Cartledge, a professor of Greek culture at Cambridge University, noted that the film contains historical errors. Among others, that Darius I did not die as depicted, and that Artemisia did not command the Persian fleet at the Battle of Salamis.
Producer Mark Canton hopes to release a sequel soon.
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- Producer Mark Canton Talks 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, the Sex Scene, POWER, THE LAST WITCH HUNTER with Vin Diesel, an IMMORTALS Sequel, and More
- Official website
- 300: Rise of an Empire at the Internet Movie Database
- 300: Rise of an Empire at Box Office Mojo
- 300: Rise of an Empire at Rotten Tomatoes
- 300: Rise of an Empire at Metacritic
- 300: Rise of an Empire at History vs. Hollywood