Blu-Ray Review- 300: Rise of an Empire
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Street Date: June 24th 2014
Technical Specifications: 1080P, Color, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio, 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio,
Runtime: 103 Minutes
In 2007, Zack Snyder’s film adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 300, scored at the box office and ushered in some cinematic ingenuity with its endlessly imitated style. The special effects, editing techniques, and slow-motion capture via green screen captivated audiences, and brought the internet meme world to a new level (“This…is…SPARTA!”). Though I love historical and action films alike, 300 felt like an over-bloated video game with speech after drawn out speech, even if I did appreciate the technical wizardry. Those who adored the first film will surely enjoy 300: Rise of an Empire, others (like me), will be left yawning and checking their wristwatch.
This second installment takes place before, during, and after the first film, and begins with Queen Gorgo of Sparta (Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey) reciting the events of the Battle of Marathon to her troops. That fateful battle would end with the demise of a king, and the birth of a new breed of leader for the Persians, the man-god Xerxes. Following the obligatory prequel-esque origins of Xerxes character following the death of his Father, the film begins to focus more on the matter at hand. Themistokles of Athens (Sullivan Stapleton) leads his army to the Aegean Sea to wage war on the Persian army led by Artemisia (Eva Green), Xerxes right hand girl. Without revealing too much more of the film, battles ensue, both at land and at sea. Loyalties are questioned, with Artemisia’s background playing a significant hand in the story, and there’s lots of admittedly amazing battle sequences for those that enjoy them.
Like it’s predecessor, 300: Rise of an Empire is a well-filmed and beautifully choreographed action film for the modern “gamer” generation, and not much else. Even with historical significance and legendary tales in it’s midst, the film’s script never ascends beyond cheesy heroics and one-liners. The 3D gimmick shots are effective but over the top and unnecessary, with cartoonish blood spurting from nearly every orifice imaginable.
That’s not to say that 300: Rise of an Empire is a total loss. As I stated before, those who dug the first film (and there were many of you) will likely enjoy this installment, as the films are nearly identical in style and theatrics. Eva Green’s Artemisia is especially enjoyable to watch, and she does a great job of “selling” her sinister agenda in this film, even if it is over-the-top. I always have a tough time when it comes to recommending films like this, especially when I didn’t necessarily enjoy the final product. Action fans and those who enjoy the latest special effects wizardry will likely watch this sequel with their jaws dropped to the floor. If you’re like me, and feel as if this story has run its course, this is a rental recommendation at best.
Even if I wasn’t crazy about the film itself, there is no denying that Warner Bros. has put together an absolutely amazing looking Blu-Ray disc for 300: Rise of an Empire. The gritty, bloody, golden-hued epic looks spectacular in High Definition. Colors are spot-on accurate to the theatrical scheme, and fine object detail in everything from facial features, battle armor, and even the wooden ships evokes breathtaking clarity. This is a beautiful looking Blu-Ray edition.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track included here is a feast for the ears, putting full use to your surround sound system at home. The dynamic range and pure power involved in the battle sequences will shake your floor and wake the neighbors, it’s that good! Whether it’s the clanking of swords and shields, waves crashing against the ships, or the subtle whisper of wheat swaying in the wind, everything on this track sounds glorious in HD sound.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has provided fans of 300: Rise of an Empire with a variety of special features. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
- Behind the Scenes: The 300 Effect- This segment of the bonus features provides several short featurettes: 3 Days in Hell, Brutal Artistry, A New Breed of Hero, and Taking the Battle to Sea. Each individual segment delves deeper into the production involved in that particular aspect of the film. From Zack Snyder (producer on this one) to cast members, we get to hear about the inception of the film, special effects scenes, scripting, casting, and much more.
- Featurette: Real Leaders & Legends- This one runs nearly twenty-three minutes and features the filmmakers and historians diving into the legends involved in the 300 mythology itself. We get to learn about historical timelines involved, the legendary characters themselves, and much more.
- Featurette: Women Warriors- This one runs slightly over twelve minutes and discusses the importance of women not only in this film series, but in the mythology itself. From the female cast members to historians, we get to hear some interesting anecdotes from everyone involved in this interesting featurette.
- Featurette: Savage Warships- This bonus segment runs over ten minutes and involves the filmmakers discussing the special effects, practical sets, and human element involved in the creation of the massive warships from the film.
- Behind the Scenes: Becoming a Warrior- This is the shortest segment of the bunch, running just under five minutes, and focusing on the training involved for the actors to become their epic characters.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray release from Warner Bros. includes a reflective slipcover with Themistokles and his fateful sword. The title is not embossed on this edition. On the reverse of the slip and case you’ll find a short plot synopsis for the film, a list of the special features, and technical specifications for this home video release. Inside you’ll find an Ultraviolet Digital HD copy code, the Blu-Ray disc, and DVD. As you can see, we do get a simple yet effective design on the discs themselves as well.
There are many people who will truly enjoy 300: Rise of an Empire, I myself, was not one of them. Much like the first film, I appreciated the special effects and technological wizardry involved, but this story is bloated, the script is lean, and the end result is nothing more than over-the-top popcorn entertainment. If that’s what you came for, you’ll be happy. The Blu-Ray edition from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment sports an absolutely stunning video transfer, and a thrilling audio experience to match. Special features are fairly loaded as well, with several worthwhile featurettes for those seeking to know more about the making of the film. This is an easy Blu-Ray edition to recommend on technical merits, but this isn’t a film I would revisit anytime soon.
Pete Macabre (“Film Fan” Pete)
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