Trailer Tuesday: 300 - Rise of an Empire
I was, and remain, a huge fan of 300 (my review) based on Frank Miller's graphic novel. From director Zack Snyder, the 2007 film depicted a slice of Ancient World history - the Battle of Thermopylae - through the filter of a propaganda tale, resulting in a hyper-stylised movie experience. God forbid you bitched about 300's lack of realism because if you did you missed the point of the film entirely.
Anyway, a sequel to 300 was really unnecessary, but hey, this is Hollywood we're talking about, and the original made a ton of cash, so next year we can look forward to 300: Rise of an Empire.
Supposedly based on Frank Miller's Xerxes, an as-yet-unpublished follow-up to 300, Rise of an Empire depicts other great battles of the Greek-Persian Wars, particularly the naval engagement of Artemisium. Unknown Sullivan Stapleton plays Athenian general Themistocles, a hero of common birth, while one of my major lady crushes Eva Green heads up the Persian fleet as its female commander Artemisia. Returning from the first film meanwhile are Rodrigo Santoro as "god king" Xerxes and Lena Headey as Spartan queen, and now vengeful widow, Gorgo.
On announcement of the sequel, I was concerned that it was going to be a nasty, borderline straight-to-DVD effort. The first trailer proved me wrong. Snyder remains involved as the film's producer and screenwriter at least.
The thing is, I'm not as excited as I probably should be, given my love for the original. And I'm going to put that down to the fact 300 was so influential - which actually is a problem. It's shamelessly R-rated, highly artificial style has been copied, parodied and even replicated quite convincingly on the small screen. Put another way, what made 300 so special - its bare-skinned machismo and CGI-heavy aesthetic - is now stale.
Sure Rise of an Empire has the novelty of taking the conflict to the waters of the Aegean, but will that be enough to reinvigorate an over-used approach and impress jaded moviegoers like myself? I guess only time will tell.
300: Rise of an Empire releases in the United States on 7 March 2014. The film's South African release date has yet to be set.