300: Rise of an Empire - More cartoonish historical warfare from a graphic novel by Frank Miller. The story runs concurrently with that of the first film from 2006. The Persian god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is laying waste to the Greek city-states, focusing on Sparta, whom his forces meet at the Battle of Thermopylae. In this film, Xerxes's chief general and commander of all of Persia's navy, the beautiful but deadly Artemisia (Eva Green), brings her fleet of hundred of ships and thousands of warriors to do battle with the much smaller forces of the Athenians, lead by war hero Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton). Much CGI hacking, slashing and bleeding commences. Also featuring Jack O'Connell, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, David Wenham, and Lena Headey.
Original director Zack Snyder doesn't return this time, although he co-wrote the script. Director Noam Murro tries his best to mimic the style of the first film, although this one looks cheaper, and the greenscreen sets more obvious. With much of the action set at sea, digital seaspray is constantly "splashed" onto the camera lens, but rather than adding to the reality of the shots, it makes them cheesier. Stapleton does his best as the hero, but he pales compared to the uber-macho posturing of Gerard Butler in the first film. Eva Green, on the other hand, has a hoot chewing up the scenery as the delectably evil Artemisia. I wasn't a fan of the first film, either its style or content. Those are both continued here, with the cartoon blood splattered across the screen like a slow-motion Jackson Pollack [sic] painting, and the history seeming as if it was written by a hormonal teenage boy raised on video games. If not for Eva Green, and some of the production design, I would rate this even lower. 5/10