300: Rise of an Empire is the latest installment in the series of movies based on Frank Miller’s graphic novels. The first was 300 which told the story of the 300 Spartan warriors who held a critical mountain pass against the entire Persian army for a considerable period of time before being wiped out in their entirety. I’m not a historian. I was told that 300 was historically inaccurate, so I assume 300: Rise of an Empire is likewise inaccurate. However, I won’t judge the movie based on historical accuracy, but rather on entertainment value.
300: Rise of an Empire begins where 300 ends. The 300 Spartan soldiers are dead; the pass is taken. Meanwhile, the Persian navy is en route to Athens. It is met on the seas by the much smaller Athenian navy led by Themistocles, the man who, years before, slew the previous Persian king on a previous invasion attempt. The Athenian ships are smaller and more agile than the Persian so they manage to do a considerable amount of damage. The battle rages back and forth. There is a brief parley in which Themistocles and Artemisia (the Greek woman who commands the Persian forces—which is a story in itself) have sex instead of negotiating. When Themistocles refuses to join Artemisia she has him thrown off her boat. The battle begins again. And so forth.
Strengths: the special effects were good, the acting was fine, and the plot okay. I don’t recall any logical holes, although Themistocles did seem to move around Greece rather quickly for that time period (he went from the naval battle, to Athens, to Sparta, etc….). The dark tone of the movie was pretty good, and there were a number of decent lines in the movie. Weaknesses: I think historical accuracy (which I’ve mentioned above) constitutes a weakness. If you are going to make a movie about that particular war in that particular time period, you should make it as accurate as you can. Otherwise, you could confuse the historical sensibilities of the younger populace. I don’t expect people to look to movies to learn their history, but inaccuracy still does not help the cause. The previously mentioned locomotion of Themistocles would also constitute a weakness, or at the least, large segments of time-skipping. Other than that, I can’t think of any other major weaknesses although the movie never really gripped me quite as well as 300.
Ultimately, I’ll give 300: Rise of an Empire three and a half stars out of five.