Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro, Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, David Wenham, Igal Naor.
Courageous Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) fires the arrow that slays Persian King Darius (Igal Naor) in front of his son, Prince Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro).
Darius’ adopted daughter Artemisia (Eva Green) pledges to avenge the king.
She masterfully manipulates Xerxes in his hour of grief, transforming the weak-willed mortal into a strutting God-King, and then leads the Persians into battle on the high seas, while Xerxes overcomes King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) at Thermopylae.
All that stands between Artemisia’s vast armada is a few hundred boats under the command of Themistocles, flanked by close friend Aeskylos (Hans Matheson), brave warrior Scyllias (Callan Mulvey) and his son Calisto (Jack O’Connell).
Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 300: Rise Of An Empire is a turgid sequel (of sorts) to the 2007 swords and sandals epic, which unfolds before, during and after the fierce Battle of Thermopylae chronicled in the first film.
Clashes between the Greek and Persian ships are choreographed with aplomb as hulls smash through the bellies of enemy ships. Unfortunately, Stapleton fails to fill Gerard Butler’s huge sandals. He has neither the imposing physical presence nor deep growl of his predecessor.
Green is more convincing as a vengeful harpie, who gleefully cuts off the head of an underperforming subordinate then steals a final kiss before tossing the dripping noggin at the camera. Pecs flex, torsos ripple and bearded men growl, but it’s a woman scorned who spills the most blood.
A two-disc box set comprising 300 and the sequel, plus a limited edition Blu-ray box set packaged with a Spartan helmet, are also available.