When last we saw Leonidas and his brave Spartans at Thermopylae, they looked like this. (Is that Michael Fassbender on Leonidas’s right?)
Two hundred ninety-nine lay dead, one returned to Sparta to report their mission accomplished (It was a suicide mission, Spartans wanted a glorious death). We rejoin them shortly after the events at the Hot Gates, with Leonidas’s Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey, who specializes in warrior queens) leading the Spartans into battle against the Persians. She tells us why Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) has it in for the Greeks: apparently the Athenian leader Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) personally killed Xerxes’s father, King Darius. Xerxes used to be human so we get to see Rodrigo looking like himself at first—but then Darius’s naval commander Artemisia (Eva Green) fans his hatred of the Greeks. She kills everyone who might talk sense into Xerxes, and then makes him undergo a ritual that turns him into this.
Aaaaaaaaaaaa his eyebrows are trying to kill us! Help, he’s going to audition for the Village People in 480 BC!
Then the Persians attack the Greek city-states with a huuuge fleet. Themistocles tries to mount a proper defence, but Athens has just invented democracy and everyone gets an opinion, so he and his men are on their own. Themistocles is played by Sullivan Stapleton, who is not a bad actor but lacks the heroic heft for this stuff—he makes Gerald Butler look like Daniel Day-Lewis.
His small fleet has to battle the huuuge navy led by Artemisia, who divides her time between slaughtering men and changing her goth-metal costumes. Why isn’t Eva Green in more movies? Here she plays a ferocious warrior who wields two swords at the same time, and she doesn’t even need them because she can castrate men with a look.
The movie is Rated R-16 because every ten seconds someone gets hacked with a sword, then his blood spurts in slow motion for another ten seconds. The screenplay for this movie must be three pages long, most of it Lena Headey’s voice-over. 102 minutes of men disemboweling, beheading and vivisecting each other, and you know what was cut from this R-16 version? A sex scene. Because Eva Green’s breasts are more dangerous than men impaling each other with swords. Just say no to heterosex.
300: Rise of An Empire must be an advertisement for the color red. After three minutes of carnage we had the overwhelming urge to eat the bagnet dinuguan at Wooden Spoon (We went afterwards and they were full, as usual). Speaking of food, if you go to Hossein’s Persian Kebab, don’t even mention 300 or its sequel to Mr. Hossein because he gets furious. However, if you are doing a history report on the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek Alliance, better talk to Mr. Hossein because if you get your information from 300: Rise of An Empire, you will flunk the class and deserve it.
Watch: If you want to see rippling musculature. And live actors made to look like visual effects.