Film Face-off: '300' vs. '300: Rise of an Empire'

Film Face-off: '300' vs. '300: Rise of an Empire'

Mar 10, 2014

We finally have our first prequel, sequel, side-quel rolled into one film. That's right, you're getting all three of those things with 300: Rise of an Empire. Back in 2006 when 300 was released there was a movement. It finally dawned on men everywhere that six-pack abs were something to try (but mainly fail) to achieve. There were 300-inspired workouts on every morning talk show. Thanks to 300 and Sin City the graphic novel was something that should and would be adapted.

After eight long years, we're back with another Greek story with vats of CGI blood/chocolate pudding ready to be spilled. This week's Film Face-off is the original 300 versus the... whatever we are technically going to call 300: Rise of an Empire.

 

The Plot

300

King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his Spartan force of 300 men fight the Persians in 480 B.C.

300: Rise of an Empire

General Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) fights against the Persian navy, led by Artemisia (Eva Green).

Winner: 300. The Spartans are severely outnumbered. It's insane for them to even try to fight, but I've never met a Spartan willing to shy away from battle. With Rise of an Empire almost all of the fighting takes place on ships. It's tough to pull off, but it also begs the question of tactics, and who is leading the men. More importantly, when you play with the timeline as much as Rise of the Empire attempts to do, things get very, very muddled. The point and purpose, and how those thing are achieved are repeated very seamlessly within 300 and that's not the case with this new one.

 

The Men

300

King Leonidas fights with Dilios (David Wenham) and Stelios (Michael Fassbender). They also have a father-son duo. Plus there's the cunning Theron (Dominic West) who is up to no good.

300: Rise of an Empire

Themistokles has a right-hand man in Aesyklos (Hans Matheson). Dilios is back within certain sections. There's another father-son duo with Scyllias (Callan Mulvey and Calisto (Jack O'Connell).

Winner: 300. It helps that Bulter and Fassbender are pretty famous compared to all of the other names. The father-son duo is a little better in 300 and almost amusing how they really only flipped it around in Rise of the Empire. Here's dialogue from the father/son in 300 ... Father: "He was all that was best in me." Here's dialogue from the father/son in Rise ... Son: "A man's responsibility is to protect his family and his nation." Father (annoyed): "Who told you that?" Son: "My father." That second one made you groan right? I couldn't tell you one interesting thing about Aesykolos, whereas Fassbender's Stelios had some of the best skilled fighting scenes in 300. While West's Theron was annoying, it was a good annoying that had a fitting end. Plus he was in The Wire, which always gets you bonus points.

 

The Women

300

Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) is King Leonidas' wife. Then there's the red-haired Oracle Girl (Kelly Craig).

300: Rise of an Empire

Queen Gorgo is back. Artemisia (Eva Green) leads the Persian navy against the Greeks, helping Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro).

Winner: 300: Rise of an Empire. The Oracle Girl is odd, somehow possessed, nude, and then licked by an ugly immortal. Crazy beats odd, and that's what we get with Artemisia. It would have been nice if Green was able to go full bat-s**t crazy with this character, but it somehow felt tame. Tame is relative when you're talking about how Artemisia got the chip on her shoulder (a lot of rape), and the uncomfortable sex scene with Themistokles. Artemisia seems very intelligent, but her naval plans consisted way too much off telling someone else to go fight a battle. She definitely gets points for kills, carving up and beheading many Greeks. Even Queen Gorgo gets into the killing spirit with a sword this time around, though Headey had a better overall character with the first film.

 

The Mortal Turned God

300

Xerxes is a mortal turned god who is taller than everyone else, doesn't wear much clothing and has a lot of gold jewelry and piercings.

300: Rise of an Empire

Xerxes still has on the same outfit for most of the film, but we also see a prequel on his motivations and how he becomes a god.

Winner: 300. The second film is so sloppy with Xerxes. His motivation to become a god is that Themistokles killed his dad when the Persians invaded an earlier time. Then Artemisia convinces him to walk the Earth, and he stumbles upon some water that makes him gold. We also see Artemisia bully him a little bit, so he doesn't even seem that impressive/dangerous. With 300, there was mystery to Xerxes, and clearly that worked out better. When Leonidas launches the spear at Xerxes during the finale, and cuts his cheek, I immediately thought, "The Russian is cut!" from Rocky IV, but it didn't end up working out as well for Leonidas as it did for Mr. Balboa.

 

The Battles

300

For the battles within the Hot Gates we have swords, spears, arrows, shields, horses, the immortals with their bombs, a giant, armored rhinoceros, barbarians, an elephant, a cliff and most importantly, a solid game plan from an outnumbered army.

300: Rise of an Empire

The battles on the sea include ships running into each other, ships hiding in fog, and less-trained men jumping from ship to ship fighting. There's also a big barge of oil used to burn up other ships.

Winner: 300. The reason we would sit through either of these films is for the battles. In every situation, 300 gets it right, and Rise of the Empire misses the mark. The tactics used in Rise seem terribly simple, like a ship running into the side of another side. Yet when Themistokles does it, he's praised as a genius. The big oil barge is the only visually cool fight. I actually love every single fight in 300. Plus, they are training killing machines. Most of the men in Rise are farmers, who somehow can kill with skill. The tactics in 300 can be traced back to a child battling a wolf. There is nothing of the sort in Rise.

 

OVERALL WINNER: 300 beats 300: Rise of an Empire, 4-1.

Who would have guessed that our first prequel, sequel, side-quel would also be a mess-quel? Probably a lot of us. With 300 we know we are with the best of the best. Themistokles is good, but I have no idea why. It's never explained. I also thought they were calling him The Mistokles for the first half of the film because everyone kept overpronouncing the. With the social power of 300 in 2006, Rise of the Empire should have come out within two years. Now that eight years have passed, it has no momentum and the franchise shouldn't be able to survive this dud of a film.

 

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