Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2
CINEMA Rating: V18
After witnessing General Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) of Greece murder his father, King Darius, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) through the malicious prodding of his adoptive sister Artemisia (Eva Green) journeys through the desert and becomes transformed as a golden God-King. Xerxes returns to Persia and declares war on Greece with Artemisia leading the naval fleet. Artemisia’s reasons for fighting for Persia despite being Greek are self-serving. Apparently, her family was raped and murdered by Greek hoplites when she was a young girl while herself made into a sex slave before being left for dead. Fortunately, she was rescued and trained by the Persians until King Darius, recognizing her sword fighting skills, promoted her as naval commander. Meanwhile, Themistocles gathers his Spartan fighters and delivers his most soulful speeches to unite the Athenians to fight for Greece. Lena Heady (who provides a voice over narrative) plays Leonidas' wife who advocates the superiority of Sparta and in time leads her fleet to the action.
300: Rise of an Empire reeks with male testosterone as it narrates events before, during and after the 2007 film 300 and deliberately fills the screen with blood and body parts at every opportunity. Sans the waves of blood every 10 seconds, the movie is a visual feast with ambitious computer-generated effects blended evenly with live action footages. The cast was authentically graphic and caricature-like with lust for violence, aggression and more blood. The scoring is suitable and paces the movie well. The narrative is complicated as it tries hard to hold on to history and recreate imaginary characters in events leading to the Battle of Salamis but again with all the blood so pointlessly gushing, splattering and spurting here and there, one’s senses are numb before they can try to comprehend the gist of the story. But is it any good? Depends on one’s preference for gore over a solid and creative story telling. Needless to say, the movie will only be remembered for the amount of carnage on screen.
While people suffer injustice and abuse—sadly from people they trust and rely on—they also experience healing and love, surprisingly from strangers. Artemisia learned both—betrayal from her countrymen and care from the enemy country. She could have taken the higher road and practised forgiveness for her abusers and gratitude for her rescuers but instead she let vengeance consume her soul and turn her into a monster. Christ did otherwise. He forgave those who hurt Him. So did most of our Church heroes and heroines who embraced those who persecuted them and returned love and forgiveness for every violent action received. And at the end, the fruit is peace and reconciliation. Something Artemisia never experienced but unwittingly longed for. She had everything laid down at her feet yet she was never complete and never happy. The movie showed glimpses of the ill-effects of harboring revenge but did so in the most brutal and graphic manner. Technically and visually 300: Rise of an Empire is an artistic, well-crafted film, but the carnage and the amount of blood shed in so many scenes deduct from the film’s aesthetic value, and overshadows whatever morals the story could have portrayed.