Synopsis: 300: Rise of an Empire took place before, during, and after the events of 300, spanning several battles in the Greco-Persian wars.
Review: Frank Miller deviated considerably from history, especially in the second film. So much so, in fact, that this movie must be regarded as alternate history or historical fantasy. That’s perfectly fine, if it inspires people to investigate the true history of these individuals and battles.
As 300 belonged in many ways to Rodrigo Santoro as God King Xerxes, the follow-up belonged to Eva Green as Artemisia — Xerxes’ brilliant, vengeful, femme fatale general. Green is perfect for this role, proving that type casting can be a very good thing. It’s ironic that Green exuded command equal to that of a queen without a crown, because historical general Artemisia was actually Queen Artemisia of Caria, very much historical King Xerxes’ equal. I’d love to see Green play a more accurate version of her. It was also a pleasure to see Lena Headey once again as Queen Gorgo. She played no wilting dowager. Headey brought fierce intensity and gravitas to the part. Gorgo was the queen Cercei Lannister wishes she could be. Unfortunately, Sullivan Stapleton wasn’t as strong as he needed to be as he played soldier-statesman Themistocles. He was overshadowed by Green and Headey.
Despite two strong female characters, some striking visuals, and a cameo by Spartacus favorite Peter Mensah as Artemisia’s Doctore, I feel the original 300 is the stronger film overall. I give 300: Rise of an Empire three out of five. it’s available on Blu-ray, DVD and V.O.D.