300 Rise Of An Empire is set some time after the events of 300. Xerxes defeated Leonidas and all of Greece is about to be levelled by the God King. However the warriors of Athens believe that they can use Leonidas' sacrifice to rally all of Greece to combat this threat. A new cast of characters are introduced, plus a few surprise cameos. Leading the cast is Sullivan Stapleton as Athenian, leader Themistocles, and Eva Green as the primary villain, Artmeisia. There's also a supporting cast that includes many from the first film such as Lena Heady and David Wenham returning as Queen Gorgo and Dillios respectively.
300 Rise Of An Empire was an interesting experience in the fact that many wondered if the success of the previous film could be replicated again this time around. The limited plot and dialogue was all forgiven in the first film because it was masked by a visual awesomeness we had never seen before, but now we're four Zack Snyder movies in. We're used to his brand of visuals by now, so all attention is on how well everything else is executed.
First off I'd like to say there are a ton of returning elements, such as over-the-top violence, beautiful scenery both punctuated by slow motion. Slow motion scene after slow motion scene. You see where this is going. Why this worked in the first film was that Zach Snyder knew how to use it to its full potential. Noam Murro, who takes the director's chair in this film, uses this same technique seemingly just for the sake of having them. It makes for some awkward of moments. The dialogue is not only less punchy and dramatic but also feels a bit recycled at times. Different characters will spew the exact piece of inspiring dialogue that was used in 300. I suppose that is the whole problem with this film, everything that could really have been said well was already said.
300 Rise Of An Empire does have redeeming qualities in the shape of its two leads, Eva Green and Sullivan Stapleton, who play their roles fantastically. Green especially was a fantastic villain; she brought so much to the role. Her back story (one of many) stands out the most, she easily has the best lines and some of the most memorable scenes in the entire film. Sullivan Stapleton is given the unenviable role of Leonidas 2.0, which he fills out very well and then some. Themistocles is his own man with unique and interesting skills, and I found him to be an interesting protagonist. Also, when the final battle kicks off at the end, I got chills. That's saying something when a movie is filled with nothing but battle after battle.