300: Rise of an Empire

WRITTEN BY: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad
STARRING: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Callan Mulvey, Rodrigo Santoro, Lena Headey
RATING: 2.5 stars

With its gory 3D battle scenes, one thing is for certain - 15-year-old boys are going to love 300: Rise of an Empire. The film is less of a sequel and more of a "meanwhile" tale about what the Greeks were doing while the Spartans were fighting elsewhere. I am not sure it is entirely worth seeing this side story, but the film does do a good job of fitting the events into the timeline. Unfortunately, the dialogue is terrible and the film feels longer than its 100 minutes.

Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) makes an enemy of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) - the god-king who Gerard Butler and the Spartans fought in the original 300 film - when he kills Xerxes' father in a battle. Years later, Xerxes’ navy commander, Artemisia (Eva Green), leads the Persian forces to battle against Themistocles and his men. Themistocles also tries to persuade Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) to involve the Spartans in a united front against the invading Persians.

Stapleton is a talented actor, but he has little to work with in this film, which is a shame. Fellow Aussie, Callan Mulvey, who plays Themistocles' best friend, is also forced to deliver terrible dialogue. He is capable of so much more. Santoro has less to do this time, but learning more about his history is interesting.

The film has been promoted as portraying women as heroines and powerful villains who do not need men to take care of them. Unfortunately, while both Headey and Green's characters are certainly tough women who can hold their own in a fight against men three times their size, they both start as damsels in distress. It is only when Queen Gorgo is mourning the loss of the original 300 that she plucks up the courage to try to seek revenge with her troops. Meanwhile, Artemisia (slight spoiler here) had to be brutally raped for years before being rescued and trained to be a superior soldier and strategist. Then she has sex with one of her male enemies. This is not the inspiring "girl power" I was hoping to see.

But, to all the teenage boys who might be reading this, there are a few boobs on show and coupled with the bloody battles, the film is probably worth you paying to see in 3D.