Take a drink every time someone says "free" or "freedom", and you will be drunk before the battles even begin. I would be surprised if you could survive the movie.
I enjoyed the movie 300, both the interpretation of history and the art direction. I had to turn off my brain for some of the parts that adjusted history, but overall it was a lot of fun. If 300 was not appealing, then there is nothing to enjoy in Rise of an Empire. For those that enjoyed the original, there is a lot to enjoy in the follow-up movie. Personally, while I found the film a little long in exposition, it still met my expectations and was almost exactly what I wanted out of my cinematic experience.
Some things that I really enjoyed:
- The art direction was absolutely gorgeous, and stung together an non-stop litany of stunning visuals. Combined with phenomenal editing, sound editing, and sound effects, and the movie is a treat on the senses.
- Men and (two) women with excellent physiques constantly performing stunts, drawing copious amounts of digital blood, and seething with all the primal rage of battle leads to some epic battles.
- Speaking of battles, the naval combat was as epic and glorious as the tight confined combat of the first movie.
- Interesting interpretations of history. "Interesting" - that is a safe word.
- Eva Green absolutely stole the show as Artemisia. This is one of the instance where the costuming team just did not give a damn about keeping it period accurate, and the movie was better for it.
Parts of the movie that I did not enjoy:
- The exposition draws on forever in their constant, repetitive harping of the theme of freedom. The audience gets it, Themistocles wants to unite the Greeks, and he cannot do it without the Spartans. Also, a free Greece is better than a Persian Greece. Also, free men want to be free. It was the 'MerkaFuckYeah of 480 B.C.E.; if this does not play well to the Freedom Loving Free People for Freeing Freedom, I am not entirely sure what will.
- The sex scene was gratuitous, but really damn hot.
- Sullivan Stapleton is no Gerard Butler.
- Lena Headey was not given a chance to be as wonderful in this movie as she was in 300.
- The exposition ate up far too much screen time. I blame the writers for this, and possibly the director for not cutting more of it out of the movie. If they were trying to hit some magical amount of screen time, exposition could have easily been cut out and the naval battles could have been extended.
One final point that grates my nerves when movies do it, and this movie did it at least twice. In fact, it annoys me when televisions shows do it, too. Do not, ever, under any circumstances, repeat a scene from a previous part of the movie or television show. It is lazy editing and insulting to the audience to repeat the exact same scene, just copying and pasting the film from one point to another. If the director or story teller wants to have something repeated, at least do something new for the audience. Trying showing the scene from a different camera angle, or adjust it based on a different character's perspective. Just do not assume that I am so forgetful that sixty minutes later, I have completely forgotten about that critical scene that you already emphasized was very critical.
On a four star scale, I rate this movie Freedom and Meets Expectations.