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After a tangle of hits and misses (Man of Steel, Sucker Punch, Watchmen), Zack Snyder has at long last returned to produce 300: Rise of an Empire, the sequel to his breakthrough blockbuster 300. Though Noam Murro has taken Snyder's place at the helm, you can see in the trailer above a clear effort to continue the splashy style and ardent machismo that made the first film such a rousing hit.
Back in 2006, Snyder brought to light the incredible story of the Battle of Thermopylae, where King Leonidas of Sparta led a small army of just 300 into battle against the fearsome forces of Xeres. Re-imagined by comic book crafters Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, 300 was a vibrant and thrilling historical epic that awed audiences around the world. But even with all its grandeur, battles, and bloodshed, it was just the beginning of a grander story.
At the conclusion of 300 it's said that even though Leonidas and his army were defeated at Thermopylae, their bravery rattled the Persian armies ranks and inspired other Grecian city-states to band together against Xerxes. Adapted by Snyder and Kurt Johnstad from Miller's graphic novel Xerxes, 300: Rise of an Empire will continue this saga, picking up with Greek general Themistocles who must ready his army to fight the invading troops of the mortal-turned-god Xerxes.
Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton leads the brawny cast as Themistocles. Game of Thrones' Lena Headey returns as Queen Gorgo of Sparta, while Rodrigo Santoro reprises his part as the pierces and preening villain Xerxes. New to the cast is Eva Green (Dark Shadown) as Artemisia I of Caria, an ally of Xerxes and noted warrior woman of history. Also new to this 300 tale are battles at sea, complete with ship collisions and churning waves of blood.
Revisit the film's first trailer below:
There are some clearly solid pieces to this sequel. The Snyder-Miller base is promising. Headey is always a grim pleasure in period regality. Stapleton seems suitably strapping in his minimal batter wear, and Green seems an outright beast as Artemisia. For me the wild card here is helmer Murro. His only previous directing effort is the lackluster dramedy from 2008 Smart People. Oh, have you forgotten that little gem with Dennis Quaid, Thomas Haden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Ellen Page? Don't worry, buddy, I got you.
300: Rise of an Empire opens March 7th, 2014.