300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE TWO-DISC SPECIAL EDITION DVD (2014)
SYNOPSIS: This new chapter of the epic saga 300, told in the breathtaking visual style that defined the original blockbuster brings the fight for glory to a challenging new battlefield: the sea. Greek general Themistokles is pitted against massive invading Persian forces who are ruled by god-king Xerxes and led by Artemisia, the vengeful commander of their navy. Knowing his only hope of defeating the Persian armada is to unite Greece, Themistokles leads the charge that will change the course of the war.
Eight years have passed since 300. Gerald Butler has become a bigger star than he originally was. Zack Synder has gone on to become Warner Bros’ go-to-man for superheroes adaptation. Frank Miller on the other hand has yet finished his comic book for the sequel given that he was the one who initiated the idea.
This sequel, prequel or what director Noam Murro says ‘an equal’ to 300 touches on the events that surround the Battle of Marathon where King Leonidas and his faithful 300 warriors met their glorious death. You can’t resurrect a dead King thus the plotting focuses on General Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) who led a band of free men from Greek against an invading Persian naval led by their ruthless commander, Artemisia (Eva Green).
Without the energy and enthusiasm, 300: Rise of an Empire or should we say, 1001 ways to die violently by sword is a mere pale copy of the original. Every single scene is punctuated by insane deaths of beheadings, severed limbs and copious amount of CG bloodshed. More blood doesn’t mean more guts as the brutal killings become a recurring joke after the second round of battle on sea. Even though it’s the compelling visual style of Synder and Miller which made it so famous in 300, Noam Murro only proved you can’t cut the same dress from the same cloth.
Eva Green (Casino Royale) rises above all the testosterone and nonsensical sea fights to deliver an outstanding performance as Artemisia, a once sex slave who fights to avenge her families’ death. Opposite Australian Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom) who gave a less rousing performance compared to Butler, the duo will go down in history for giving viewers their version of angry sex on a ship. Lena Headey returns for a brief stint as Queen Gorgo and rising star Jack O’ Connell (starring in Angelina Jolie’s upcoming Unbroken) stars as a young warrior who fights alongside Themistocles. Rodrigo Santoro is once again wasted as God-King Xerxes though he seems to be the most interesting character of all.
It’s all about glory, death and revenge in 300: Rise of an Empire. The visual is still dazzlingly but the thin narrative with plenty of historical inaccuracies and boring speeches are just excuses to make way for a third instalment.
Behind the Scenes: The 300 Effect is a 30 minutes featurette that is divided into four parts: 3 Days in Hell, Brutal Artistry, A New Breed of Heroand Taking the Battle to Sea. To sum it up, the featurette on the whole delves into the plotting, the visual effects, the set and costume design.
Real Leaders & Legends has historians talking about the real Greek/Persian war and comparing the actual historical characters to the ones portrayed onscreen.
Women Warriors delves into the history of Lena Headey’s Queen Gorgo and Eva Green’s Artemisia.
Savage Warships feature archival footage of the recreation of a Greek warship and the technology behind the building of the naval warship.
Becoming A Warrior, the shortest feature of all takes a look at how the male actors turned themselves into well-built warriors under the guidance of an instructor.
300: Rise of An Empire looks stunning on DVD with a flawless mixture of deep black level, abundance of desaturated and detailed CG images. Audio is often strong and dynamic, you expect nothing less of a movie that features cutthroat battles, explosions and a pounding score by Junkie XL.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee