HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: 300: Rise of an Empire 3D
HTS Overall Score:89
Ok, how many of you actually thought that “300” needed a sequel? I mean, I certainly didn’t expect or want a sequel. My first thought upon seeing the trailer was that this was going to be DTV trash at the very least. The trailers made it out to be a cheap knockoff and cash grab with the original movie as the main draw for this train wreck. After viewing it in the theaters I had to really eat some crow. It’s not a perfect movie, but “300: Rise of an Empire” actually captures a lot of the essence of the first movie as Zack Snyder stays on as advisor and producer to work with Noam Murro and give us a surprisingly fun, blood soaked action movie. It tends to be a bit more blunt and in your face, vs. the first film, but it still manages to have a striking pair of leads that breathe life in the stylistic comic book bloodbath of fun.
Instead of being a direct prequel or sequel, “Rise of an Empire” instead becomes prequel, sequel and simultaneous story to “300” as it weaves the original story into the folds of this expanded take on the battles between Greece and Persia. Starting out with the counsel of Greece we have our hero Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) giving an impassioned speech to the combined counsel of all the Greek City states in an effort to create a combined front against the might of King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Begging the other city states for a fleet of ships to combat the enormous Persian Navy, commandeered by the crazed ex-Grecian Artemisia (Eva Green), Themistocles shares of his plan to thwart Xerxes on sea. With King Leonidas and his brave 300 bodyguards delaying Xerxes ground forces, Themistocles must take all the ships he has, sans the hesitant Spartan fleet among other Greek dissenters, and wage guerilla war upon the advancing Persian battle ships.
With Artemisia at the helm it seems to be a doomed battle, but the Athenians aren’t about to give up just yet. While they may be outnumbered, and outgunned the brilliant warlord maneuvers the lumbering Persian ships into one trap after another, laying waste to ships being sent out by the lunatic female commander. As ship after ship is destroyed, General after General fails her, Artemisia is livid with rage and frustration. Trying in one last desperate show of force she finally gains the upper hand, annihilating most of the Athenian fleet in one fell swoop, leaving only a handful of ships left. There Themistocles lures the over confident Artemisia in for the most famed Greek sea battle of all times.
I actually had a lot of fun with this sequel. It isn’t a perfect film, far from it, but it still has a lot of the charm and sheer bloody fun of the original. The charm of the film comes from the over stylized and over the top violence and CGI blood sprays that saturated both film, using the sword as a paintbrush and blood as the paint in its telling of the ancient story. Ancient history tells us that Sparta was the war machine of the Greek Empire and Athens was the city of art and culture. As much as they tried to play that up in the movie it got lost in the battle as the Athenians pretty much became as godlike as the Spartans in their battle prowess throughout the film. As much as the OCD historian in me would have preferred a more accurate portrayal of the dynamics between the city states, we aren’t here to go into historical detail. We all know that we’re here for the battle scenes and CGI abs. Themistocles lays waste to the Persian fleet just as handily as Leonidas tears it up in their last stand, lopping off limbs, heads and other various body parts in a rain of destruction. I was actually surprised how well the stylistic battle scenes imitated the style of the first movie. If you look really closely you can see that there is a different hand behind the wheel, but it’s not THAT noticeable unless you look. Gone is the supernatural warriors and merciless immortals, replaced by a bit more into the supernatural (or SEEMED supernatural) powers and background of the God King Xerxes.
I really enjoyed the inclusion of Artemisia and Themistocles here. Sullivan Stapleton does a very solid job at portraying another hulking Greek that will not bend to the will of a tyrant, but the real shining star is Eva Green, sopping up every seen and stealing every eye as a crazed and psychopathic commander of the Persian fleet. Artemisia has been long lauded as a fantastic war commander, but here they stylized her just a bit and gave her a veneer of crazy dipped in a frosting made of crazy. Every time she’s on screen you just can’t take your eyes off of her, even when you’re creeped out by her cruelty and ferocity. The battle scenes with her and Themistocles were phenomenal, riddled with great choreography (minus a CGI horse scene where Themistocles leaps from ship to ship in a cringe worthy moment of the movie). Again, I must iterate that I was really surprised how much fun I had with this sequel. It’s not as perfect as “300”, but it does an admirable job filling in the gaps and distancing itself at the same time by focusing on naval battles instead of hand to hand combat as much (although the cliff jumping scene when the ships are trapped in the straight is one of the best hand to hand combat scenes in the entire duo of films).
Rated R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=20746[/img]Wow, just wow. That’s all I can say here. “300: Rise of an Empire” is a stunner from beginning to end with a flawless 2.40:1 AVC transfer that shimmers and shines with even more pop and awe than its predecessor managed. As with “300” the sequel carries that desaturated and boosted contrast stylized look which amazed audiences a few years ago with Gerard Butler at the helm. However instead of the massive layers of fake grain that was used in “300” we have a much cleaner and clearer image. While there is some grain it is much glossier and shinier with tons of pop and color. Detail is flawless as you can see the peach fuzz on Eva Green’s upper lip and the shave marks where a razor has somehow shaved the Athenians shiny smooth. Colors literally pop off the screen in different shades of red, blue and DEEEEEEE inky blacks. I was really impressed with the black levels, for the film is just bathed in deep blacks and creepy greys throughout. Never is detail lost or susceptible to crush, instead giving us a deeply desaturated image that just wallows in black levels that feel as if they are going to swallow you whole.
"Rise of an Empire" wasn't a naturally 3D shot film, but instead given the post conversion treatment. While not shot natively it still shows an impressive 3D presentation with plenty of pop and depth to the image. Ships glide off the screen and swinging blade pop out at you in all it's slow motion glory. I did notice SOME crosstalk and a little bit of ghosting, but nothing too wild. Overall it shows some great depth to the image and gives it that "thick" feeling instead of relying on gimmicky swords flying at the screen all the time. It may not be the BEST 3D presentation out there, but it is not a bad conversion for those who enjoy the 3D experience.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=20754[/img]As if the video wasn’t enough, Warner has decided to give the film a very hefty 7.1 DTS-HD MA track that brings the whole power and weight of the Greek army to bear on the listener. The dialogue is crisp and clean with picture perfect dialogue and fantastic panning effects. The creak and groan of ship timbers cracking under the impact of a collision and pounding sound of steel against bone or shield reverberates across the front soundstage. The surround usage is incredibly powerful and aggressive, which is the ONLY flaw I found in the entire audio track. While it’s fantastically immersive and powerful, giving great directionality, I found that the surrounds were encoded just a BIT too hot, which made it hard to hear some dialogue occasionally. Notching the surrounds a DB or so on the receiver fixes the issue, but if you’re close to your surrounds it can make dialogue harder to hear (although that small issue wasn’t as big a deal if you’re a bit farther away from the surrounds). It’s not a major issue, one that can be easily remedied, but it kept me from giving the audio a perfect score. Lastly the LFE is a powerhouse of blunt trauma as it pounds the listener with waves of sonic vibrations from the powerful footsteps of Xerxes to the rumbling of the stylized score. Never letting up, or letting go it mercilessly rattles your bones in what seems like a never ending battle of the low end. Certainly a sub strainer for sure.
• The 300 Effect
- 3 Days in Hell
- Brutal Artistry
- A New Breed of Hero
- Taking the Battle to the Sea
• Real Leaders and Legends
• Women Warriors
• Savage Warships
• Becoming a Warrior
“300: Rise of an Empire” greatly surprised me, as I was expecting a total flop. An unwanted sequel to a movie that stood well enough on its own and didn’t really warrant a second take on the subject matter. Surprisingly enough Noam Murro pulled off the feat quite admirably, giving us a fun, blood soaked action move that comes closer to its predecessor’s quality that I ever expected. It’s not a perfect movie, and it’s hard to perfectly imitate Zack Snyder’s frenetic shooting style, but I really enjoyed it and would say if you’re a fan of the first, this one is definitely worth watching for Eva Green’s performance alone. Recommended for a watch.
Starring: Eva Green, Sullivan Stapleton, Lena Headey
Directed by: Noam Murro
Written by: Kurt Johnstad, Zack Snyder
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French (Canadian), Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 103 minutes
Own "300: Rise of an Empire" on Blu-ray 3D combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack, 2-disc DVD special edition and Digital HD on 6/24
Buy 300: Rise of an Empire 3D Combo Pack Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy 300: Rise of an Empire 2D Combo Pack Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Definite Watch
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