I've been looking forward to watching the sequel to 300 for a while. While there was a lot about the film 300 (and the comic it was based on) which jars when compared to historical fact, 300 is still a good film. The audience is made to care about its main characters and their fate, which makes the journey through the film more engaging and the ending all the more moving. The same cannot be said of 300: Rise of an Empire.
Yes, it’s an action packed film – but I found it difficult to give a damn about its characters. Also, it was so action packed that there seemed to be little time for a worthwhile storyline or any effective character building for the lead characters. The only characters with a lengthy back plot are Xerxes and Artemisia, both of which are completely fictional back plots intended to increase the supposed villainy, power and evil of each in the story (for instance, Artemisia was the queen of Halicarnassus and not the victim of the tragic story given in the film).
Part of the motive for this appears to be, once again, to set up the democracy and freedom versus tyranny and slavery plot-line. Similar was done in the first film but not with such a heavy hand. That becomes important when the audience has to put aside the knowledge that both Athens and Sparta had slaves and any democracy within Athens was solely for true born Athenians and not for slaves or people of foreign birth living and working in Athens. The critical quip used in many a film “all men are born equal and some are born more equal than others” is a witticism that has an unpleasant truth when applied to ancient Greece.
I find it a curiosity that the film is so unbalanced when it comes to action vs plot and character. The film is around 100 minutes long and an extra 15 to 20 minutes allowing better storytelling, making it a two hour film, wouldn't have been such a hardship.
I know people who got a kick out of the film. Their enjoyment, however, was in comparison with that of watching an action packed computer game and the similarity of the action to that in the game that ties-in with the film. Speaking of which, here is the trailer for the computer game – which could be used as a trailer for most of what happens in the film.