300: Rise Of An Empire picks up right where the last movie left off. In fact, the first scene is the flamboyant God-King Xerxes wielding a giant axe over a lifeless King Leonidas. For most of the movie, however, the main characters operate under the premise that their beloved King Leonidas and the rest of the 300 are still alive. This is an important detail because it takes a certain amount of gravitas to start a movie with the death of a main character. We all knew, at that moment that Leonidas wasn’t coming back. One of the most frustrating parts of this movie was waiting for everyone else to find out. I assumed that after they found out the King was dead his people would want to exact revenge on the Persians and their God-King. That’s not the case. Although this movie is about vengeance and revenge, its not about Greece’s.
Action movies are always about exacting revenge. But what happens when the character that wants to exact revenge is the enemy? Its confusing for the viewer, especially considering the antagonist has a pretty good reason to hate all the Greeks we’ve grown to love. The lengths she (that’s right, she. And she is impressive) is willing to go to get revenge is understandable considering what they did to her. So rather than wanting the Greeks to get rid of her you sit there thinking “wow, I get it”. I ended up having too much sympathy for her, I found myself rooting for her on occasion. It led to more confusion and eventually not caring who won.
One of my only complaints about the first 300 movie was that there wasn’t enough Xerxes. A towering, flamboyant man decorated in gold that thinks of himself as a God-King is an incredibly fascinating character. Much too fascinating to leave in the background. Although we learn more about how Xerxes came to be the way he is, we want more of him. After all, he is the man responsible for the death of Leonidas.
The first 300 film did a great job of making the viewers want to be Spartans, I felt like ripping my shirt off and joining King Leonidas in battle. The violence, although gratuitous at times felt necessary. The vibrancy of the colors was an interesting contrast to the blood and gore. War is violent and disgusting at times, but there is vibrancy and beauty in the sacrifices of the men and women who give themselves to a cause.
Rise Of An Empire left me unfulfilled. It was shot beautifully, but because there was no pay-off at the end It left me sitting in my chair unfulfilled. It felt like one big tease, which is odd because one of the bright spots in this movie is a beautifully shot sex scene that includes choking, hair pulling and a beautiful woman being slammed into a wall. That scene, although beautiful didn’t end in a climax and neither did the movie.