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300: Rise of a Film Franchise

If the title hadn’t already been taken, “There will be blood” would have been perfect for this sequel to the swords and sandals smash, “300.”

“300: Rise of an Empire” serves as both a sequel and a prequel to the 2006 smash which depicted in comic-book style the legendary battle of the Spartans at Thermopylae in 480BC. It serves to explain how the Greeks had originally beat back Persian aggression thanks to the heroics of Themistokles and what created the murderous drive of the god-king Xerxes and then it jumps to the aftermath of the stand of the 300 Spartans, and the larger Greek naval efforts at stopping the Persians. Adding to the villainy facing our Greek heroes, not only do they have to face off with the Xerxes, but also with his brutal, blood lusting, Greek-blooded naval commander Artemisia, who does not hesitate to behead, drown, or otherwise dispatch all who stand in her way.

Artemisia’s superior naval forces find themselves thwarted by the clever strategy and tactics of Greek hero Themistokles, and while this leads to a love, hate, lust relationship between the two adversaries, it is the hate that overwhelms and sends the entire Persian navy at the meager handful of Greek ships. Essentially, it’s “300” at sea, with courage, bravery, freedom, and noble death being the ultimate virtues.

The story is spectacularly told, with effective use of 3-D to depict the countless blood spewings created by the endless hacking of swords. Be warned: the blood/Gore content is extremely high and there are the obligatory scenes of topless women and their heaving (in slow-motion no less) breasts. There are also depictions of violence toward women (background shadows depicting rape/plunder of Athens), and graphic beheadings. But if the scenes in the original didn’t put you off, you’re unlikely to have your enjoyment diminished here either.

The original’s director, Zach Synder is writer and producer this time while newcomer Noam Murro takes the director’s chair and proves himself more than worthy. There is one miscast in the film-the son of one of the heroes looks like he could be in his late 30s, but is meant to be a teen, but the acting is solid all-round and the script is surprisingly solid. I confess, I didn’t expect to like 300: Rise of Empires, but by the end of the blood soaking 3-D experience, I found myself looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.

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