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300: Rise of an Empire - Blu-ray Review

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300: Rise of an Empire

4 stars

Turn the masculinity to eleven!  

I must admit, venturing into 300: Rise of an Empire, I wasn’t skeptical per-say, more curious. However, the curiosity prevented the unwelcomed preconceptions of the mystery I was about to partake, and I’m glad it did. Relatively unknown director Noam Murro (Smart People) undeniably has made his mark known, with the ever pleasing, inexplicably entertaining 300: Rise of an Empire.

Firstly I must say that 300 is indeed one of the most masculine, and gender driven movies I have ever seen. It is truly a man’s film. The sheer masterfulness of the testosterone-filled battle scenes, as well as the addition of groundbreaking special effects makes the film strive, and still does to this day. As is the same with its successor, perhaps disregarding the groundbreaking effects bit.

Opening with a slain Leonidas laying in a field of his compatriots, audiences are duly transported to a slew of arrows blotting out the sun, or perhaps the rejuvenating narration provided by David Wenham. Providing new voice to the tale of the brave Spartans, and her late husband, Spartan Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) depicts the transformation, and metamorphosis of the Persian Empire into the insatiable tyrant led by self-proclaimed God-King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Ten years prior, the Athenian army, led by Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), fought the Battle of Marathon against the ever-persistent Persian Army, led by then-king Darius. Witnessing the slaying of his father by Themistocles, Xerxes coaxed by naval commander of the army Artemisia (Eva Green) ventures on a journey of self-transformation, and tada…out comes the God-King, and vows woeful revenge on Greece.

As time advance, while Xerxes forces march toward Thermopylae, Themistocles ventures to Sparta in hope of an allegiance with Leonidas, and providing a sense of unity within the city-states. Falling short of the king’s departure for war, Themistocles leads his men to the Aegean Sea, in hopes of providing a short, wistful victory for the Athenians. After days of beautifully choreographed and masterfully shot battle, Artemisia provides Themistocles a truce, in the form of abandoning his men, and companionship with Xerxes and the Persians. After an extremely raunchy, rather eye-opening sex scene between the two power houses, Themistocles humorously denies, opening the door to the hell-witch Artemisia had chained deep inside.

Keeping true to original film’s beauty, the swordplay, as well as battle via weaponry, doesn’t disappoint, as the chanting of my fellow male audience members would attest. Toying more seriously with themes of self-realization, as well unity, the film provides a smooth transition into the Greek war epic, audiences have come to know and love.

However, in juxtaposition to its predecessor, I find one painstakingly annoying flaw (however, keep in mind, that this flaw took away little if no enjoyment I found with the film). I had to grit my teeth at the over-animation of the deaths, and sword swinging, which I found the blood slightly resembled ketchup, computer animated ketchup nonetheless.

300: Rise of an Empire

 MPAA Rating: R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language.
Runtime:
102 mins
Director
: Noam Murro
Writer: Zack Snyder
Cast:
Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey
Genre
: Adventure | Fantasy | War
Tagline:
300: Rise of an Empire
Memorable Movie Quote: "Nothing will stop the march of my empire!"
Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site: http://www.300themovie.com/
Release Date: March 7, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 24, 2014
Synopsis: Based on Frank Miller's latest graphic novel "Xerxes" and told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster 300, this new chapter of the epic saga takes the action to a fresh battlefield—on the sea—as Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. 300: Rise of an Empire pits Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Artemesia (Eva Green), vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

Festival Express - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 24, 2014
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps); Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps); Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

The 2.4:1 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer is flawless.  For a movie that trades on its visual impact, the picture doesn't disappoint.  It's clear, sharp, and has no visual errors I could see at all - even getting up close.  Strong blacks, blues and bloody reds permeate the picture.  This is an absolute requirement for a movie like this one and Warner Bros delivers.  Contrast is absolutely magnificent and visible in almost every frame.  Want the full experience?  Crank up the sound.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is aggressive and you can hear the battle sounds as well as feel them.  The rear speaker is especially cranked puts you in the middle of the battles.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

The Blu-ray is packed with extras. There are lengthy historical discussions as well as a lot of the "making of" (we see a lot of green screen, not surprisingly). We get input from historians, the director (Noam Murro) and Producers (including Zack and Deborah Snyder) as well as the actresses (Green and Headey). There are focuses on the real battle, women warriors, and the techniques and philosophy behind the movie.  Also included is a DVD copy of the film and an Ultraviolet streaming code.

  • Behind the Scenes: The 300 Effect (30 min)
  • Real Leaders and Legends (23 min)
  • Women Warriors (12 min)
  • Savage Warships (11 min)
  • Becoming a Warrior (5 min)

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