Lena Headey, Eva Green star in '300: Rise of an Empire' – is it worth seeing?

Lena Headey and Sullivan Stapleton star in '300: Rise of an Empire,' the sequel to the 2007 hit. Lena Headey currently stars on the HBO drama 'Game of Thrones.'

Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
Lena Headey (l.) stars in '300: Rise of an Empire.'

Like its forerunner, the 2007 hit "300," ''Rise of an Empire" again plunges us into bloody, hyper-stylized Greek history: mythology with muscles.

Made clearly to capitalize on the popularity of "300," ''Rise of an Empire" is something like collected behind-the-scenes from the Persian invasion featured in "300." Whereas the first film chronicled the Spartans' heroic stand in the Battle of Thermopylae against Xerxes's Persian invasion, "Rise of an Empire" is about the concurrent naval fight, the Battle of Artemisium.

This may be war by sea, but the ingredients of "300" are largely unaltered. An outnumbered band of Greeks staves off a tyrannical Persian army below roiling skies of red and gray.

These two films, very much intertwined, provoke a number of questions: Did everyone forget their shirts? Is this a workout video? Or is this just the most absurdly ridiculous thing ever?

Yes and no. In "Rise of an Empire," Zack Snyder moves from the director's chair to producer (and co-screenwriter with Kurt Johnstad), leaving Noam Murro to helm the film. But Snyder's imprint is unmistakable, with his visual style carried over, mimicking the extremes of Frank Miller's comic book illustrations (the inspiration of both movies).

The two movies are precisely the movies they seek to be: Some kind of grandly warped, excessively heightened dream of mythical battle. It's as if Douglas Sirk made a combat video game.

At least it's the women who reign in "Rise of an Empire." The male actors here – Sullivan Stapleton as the Greek hero Themistokles, Santoro, back as Xerxes – are easily outdone by the females.

There is Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey of "Game of Thrones") lordly presiding over Sparta. But as Persian commander Artemisia, Eva Green rules ferociously over the film. She drives the Persians with a warrior's desperate thirst for revenge and a stare that makes the men of her army cower.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Lena Headey, Eva Green star in '300: Rise of an Empire' – is it worth seeing?
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2014/0306/Lena-Headey-Eva-Green-star-in-300-Rise-of-an-Empire-is-it-worth-seeing
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe