"300: Rise of an Empire" Review

Writer-Producer Zack Snyder has done it again! Proving that the sophomore slump doesn’t have to happen to all franchises, “300: Rise of an Empire” is a stellar film. It’s not because of the awesome fight sequences, sharp visuals, and body parts being chopped off for shock value but because it understands what so many other films don’t. Sequels should simply expand the original world with great storytelling.

The film entertains our sense of time by showing what was going on in Greece prior to King Leonidus (Gerard Butler) making a stand with his 300 men at the hot gates, during and after making it a prequel/sequel hybrid. True to ancient Greek tradition, the story is set up with storytelling (word of mouth) of the highest quality. We get backstory of all the key players. Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey)  starts off telling the story of Thermistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), a warrior from Athens who, among leading Greece to a victory, also made a costly mistake in killing King Darius and leaving his son alive. 

The story then flows into the backstory of the young boy who lost his father at the hand of Thermistocles. Xerxes journey from young punk to god king is succinct and entertaining. The story of Artemisa is even tougher. Sexually abused at the hands of her fellow Greeks and left for dead, the emissary who was kicked down the well in the infamous “This is Sparta!” scene, finds her and takes her in. He raises her as a Persian warrior and what a heartless, incredibly skilled warrior she is. 

With all back stories told, the film pushes forward as Thermistocles and Artemisia go back and forth in a battle of military wit. Where “300” was a battle on land, this film’s battles take place at sea. Although the odds are against Thermistocles and his army, they get the job done losing friends along the way until the final showdown between Thermistocles and Artemisa.

The key to the “300” franchise is that at the end of the day it’s about life and death. Choosing to live your life how you want to or having your way of life forced upon you is a universal theme. With that simple premise in tact, stacking on eye candy visuals and bloody action scenes is icing on the cake. The film ends with an opening for a third installment, and I can’t wait for it!

Rating: A


Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.