Like its predecessor, “300” (2006), the film features people getting hacked, sliced and speared to death in three-dimensional graphic scenes of battle. What piques the curiosity of a film goer and history buff like me, is that the battles in the “300” series involve the Greeks/Athenians/Spartans fighting the invading Persians in 480 B.C.
‘300: Rise of Empire’ movie poster. Courtesy/Reel Deel Theater
Like “300”, this film delights in teaching you that bit of history while showing slow motion scenes of dismembering and blood spurting (though not as gory as many horror and war movies today).
As you may know, the CGI (computer generated imagery) in “300” so inspired the film industry that other films have tried, but somehow not quite succeeded in copying its style. That style is more familiar to gamers than to film aficionados.
In “Rise of an Empire,” the violence does not stop with war, but includes a violent (yet consensual) sex scene between enemies, Artemesia and Themistocles. Obviously, this is a movie most of us would not be able to stomach, for any number of reasons, and it is not a film to which one should take the kids, regardless of how thrilling it makes the study of history.
However… if you can (like I tried to do) put all this visually shocking movie making into the category of, “I wonder how they did that?” you might enjoy the feeling the film gives you of being a witness to one of the most important battles in ancient European history. In fact, the Battle of Salamis is credited with saving Europe from submission to Persian rule and allowing it to follow the democratic experiment of the free Greeks.
All that being said, the filmmakers probably didn’t expect people like my spouse and I to study the history books before going to the film. And after the film, in true Los Alamos style, we checked the details with the ancient historian Herodotus.
What we can say is that great leaps of imagination were taken with the story. The characters were all there, but not all of them in their proper roles. The outline of the story was followed, but considerable liberties were taken with the details involved in the battles.
Yet, if you are thinking of going to see “300: Rise of an Empire,” just suspend your need for historical accuracy, gird yourself for graphic violence (and sex) and enjoy the show.