With a single arrow the Greek Themistocles kills the Persian king Darius. This leaves Xerxes, Darius’s son, deeply troubled and determined to take revenge. Rise of an Empire is the follow up to the original 300 which appeared in early 2007. That film was based on a comic book written by Frank Miller. Both this new movie and its predecessor are heavily fictionalized versions of the Battle of Salamis. Where the first movie focused on the battle of Thermopylae, Rise of an Empire focuses on events taking place in parallel at the Straits of Artemisium.
I remember clearly when the first installment of the Lord of the Rings was released, as it was a really big event in cinema back then. A rock solid story, penned nearly half a century earlier, the cinematic possibilities of the new millennium, and a very talented group of people, made the Lord of the Rings trilogy into a huge critical and box office success. After its conclusion, and a shower of Oscars, rumors of plans to bring the short book that preceded The Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit, to the big screen started to spread. Unfortunately, the project would be long delayed over financial and legal disputes. Guillermo del Toro, of Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth fame, was attached to direct at some point, but eventually Peter Jackson, who originally directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy, took it upon him to direct this prequel as well, split not into two, but three separate films. The first installment of this new trilogy was recently released: An Unexpected Journey.
A film with a budget of 200 million and lots of gifted people at the helm, but does all this creative talent lead to a good movie?