“It begins as a whisper... a promise... the lightest of breezes dances above the death cries of 300 men. That breeze became a wind. A wind that my brothers have sacrificed. A wind of freedom... a wind of justice... a wind of vengeance.”
The memory of the brave 300 Spartans led by King Leonidas who stood against the might of the entire Persian Empire at the Battle of Thermopylae is one of epic legend.
In 2006 Zack ‘Man of Steel’ Synder brought the tale to the big screen in stylish gory glory.
Now we have 300: Rise of an Empire, which fills in the wider story that was taking place before, during, and after the events of the first film – and climaxes with a retelling of another famous point in the Ancient Greek war, the equally blood-soaked sea-based Battle of Salamis.
Both films are based on ground-breaking graphic novels by Frank Miller – although Xerxes, which delivers the plot for the new movie isn’t actually released yet.
Each brings a super-saturated look and feel that highlights a particular colour – while 300 focused on the red Spartan cloaks, Empire brings the blue cloaks of Athenian naval warriors – embodied by the heroic General Themistocles (Sullivan “Gangster Squad’ Stapleton) – to the fore.
The plot sees self-proclaimed ‘god king’ Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), wanting to wipe Greece off the map.
While the original 300’s land battle was raging, his naval commander Artemisia – a stunning turn by Eva Green – is tasked with destroying the Greek fleet.
300: Rise of an Empire is a more complex story than its predecessor, which was more singularly focussed on man-to-man combat.
That’s not to say that there is less fighting – but as well as the super slo-mo shots of swords dismembering enemies there is the wider spectacle of warships colliding and even sea monsters feasting on the dead.
Also of note are the female characters who get just as much screen time, with Green stealing every scene she’s in, including possibly the most confrontational seduction ever, whilst Leonidas’ widow Queen Gorgo (Lena ‘Game of Thrones’ Headey) is a voice of stoic wisdom and a worthy leader of the Spartan people.
Heed the oracle - 300: Rise Of An Empire delivers glorious, seriously violent big screen recreational carnage that will inspire your inner Spartan.