300: Rise of an Empire (3 stars)

300: Rise of an Empire

The long-time-coming sequel to the 2007 swords-and-CGI-blood action hit is a lot more fun than the original, thanks to a deliriously bonkers turn from Eva Green

If you thought that the main problem with 300 was that it didn't have enough boats in it, then 300: Rise of an Empire (more accurate title: 302: 300 On Boats) is most definitely the movie for you. The long-time-coming sequel to Zack Snyder's 2007 hit has had a change of director (step forward commercials whizz Noam Murro) but maintains the original film's CGI-heavy, slo-mo-loving, comic-strip-meets-video-game aesthetic. It's also, surprisingly, a hell of a lot more fun.

With the action cleverly unfolding parallel to the events in 300, the film stars Australian beefcake Sullivan Stapleton as Greek general Themistokles, who's readying his troops to take on Persian God-King Xerxes' (a returning Rodrigo Santoro) naval commander, the vengeful and vampish Artemisia (Eva Green). His chief cohorts include father and son soldiers Scyllias (Callan Mulvey) and Calisto (rising British star Jack O'Connell), who is seeking to prove himself in battle.

It makes an intriguing change to see an action epic that concentrates on sea battles (although, don't worry, there are plenty of hackings and stabbings too) and director Murro works hard to make each of the sea-based skirmishes distinct from each other (even if some of the tactics are laughably improbable), augmented by state-of-the-art CGI and some genuinely eye-popping 3D effects.

However, the real reason to see the film is unquestionably Eva Green, who delivers a gloriously bonkers, scenery-devouring performance as Artemisia that's so erotically charged that it's a shock to discover the film is only a 15. Highlights include: her decapitating a foe and tongue-kissing the severed head; and a 'Come to my cabin and let's negotiate a settlement' sequence with Themistokles that turns into an acrobatic, full-blooded sex scene, the punchline of which is the look on Themistokles' face when he returns to camp and is asked how the meeting went.

General release from Fri 7 Mar.

300: Rise of an Empire - Official Trailer 1 [HD]

300: Rise of an Empire

  • 3 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 1h 42min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Noam Murro
  • Cast: Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro, Sullivan Stapleton
  • UK release: 7 March 2014

Greek general Themistokles (Stapleton) goes head-to-head – and body-part-to-body-part – with vampish naval commander Artemisia (Green), as those pesky Persians return for another whupping. Much more fun than its predecessor 300, the action of which it cleverly parallels, but the real draw is Green's gloriously bonkers…