Screen Gems Movie Reviews
with Kennie Bass. You'll find it First On Fox!

300: Rise Of An Empire March 7, 2014
300: Rise Of An Empire
Studio: Warner Bros.
Rating: R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language.

The new movie bearing the title "300" really isn't a sequel to the original tale which starred Gerard Butler.

Instead, you can call it a "sidequel." That's because some events from the two films are happening at the same time.

In "300: Rise Of An Empire", the god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is not only dealing with the Spartans. He also has his sights set on the rest of the Greek city-states.

The democratic city of Athens is in the path of Xerxes; Persian army. It's greatest hero Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) is forced to come up with a plan to repel the invaders. Years earlier he had dealt a fatal blow to Xerxes predecessor, and now must defend his country once again.

Commanding Xerxes' naval forces is one of his most trusted aides. Artemisia (Eva Green) plays the warrior Xerxes turns to. She's a Greek who has turned her back on her country. She's been given the task of eilminating the Greek navy, which the Athenian Themistocles commands.

But that's no easy chore. Artemisia soon finds her opponent is crafty and very dangerous.

Shot in the same style as the original "300", "Rise of an Empire" is a perfectly watchable action movie. It shows some of the events before and after the Spartans' stand at Thermopylae from different perspectives. And it chronicles how Greece came together to fend off the hordes of Persians at its gates.

Some stars from the original are back, including Lena Headey as Leonidas' widow Queen Gorgo, Santoro as Xerxes and David Wehham as Dilios.

But it is Green who shines the most. She owns the camera every time she's on screen. From her plotting to vault Xerxes to godhood to her attempted manipulations of Themistocles, she is a worthy villain.

Stapleton is given the difficult task of following in Butler's electrifying footsteps. His hero isn't as dynamic as the slain Spartan king and the film suffers a bit by comparison.

Sullivan just doesn't command the screen the way Butler did. That drops the film down a notch, but Stapleton's performance is strong enough to keep the story on track.

On my rating scale, "300: Rise of an Empire" earns a TRIPLE.

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