This long-gestating follow-up to Zack Snyder’s 2006 gore-spiller continues a swords-and-sandals revival that has already suffered one box-office casualty stateside with Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii. Is there an appetite, then, for another belated helping of clanging steel, arterial splatter and rippling six-packs, especially one minus Gerard Butler bellowing “This… is… Spar-tahh!” from behind a bristling hedge of face-fur?
The moviemakers clearly hope so, pitching Rise Of An Empire as the putative second chapter in an ongoing saga with more than one field of adjacent activity. Turns out, you see, that the Battle of Thermopylae was not the only skirmish in Greece around 480 BC.
There was also a little dust-up in the Aegean between the Athenian fleet and the Persian navy, an episode that Empire paints as the watery equivalent of King Leonidas’ ill-fated last stand. The challenge for Noam Murro’s film, then, is to engage us in side-quel shenanigans in which the stars from the first movie barely feature, if at all. Hey, it worked for The Bourne Legacy… until people saw it.
Just as bloody yet much more conventional, 300 #2 offers splashy thrills aplenty but fails to make a watertight case for its own existence. Green, however, ensures it stays afloat.