|Photo courtesy of Legendary Pictures|
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 attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war.
The new film pits Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes, and Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy. The action adventure stars Sullivan Stapleton (“Gangster Squad”) as Themistokles and Eva Green (“Casino Royale”) as Artemisia. Lena Headey reprises her starring role from “300” as the Spartan Queen, Gorgo; Hans Matheson (“Clash of the Titans”) stars as Aeskylos; David Wenham returns as Dilios, and Rodrigo Santoro stars again as the Persian King, Xerxes.
With its unrestrained bravado and unique visual style, the original “300” forged a whole new language of filmmaking that redefined the action epic form. The trendsetting film, from then-emerging director Zack Snyder, took an historical event as interpreted by the distinct, surreal imagination of comic book author Frank Miller and gave it kinetic new life. And though the finale of “300” was nothing if not final, the saga continues in “300: Rise of an Empire,” with a fresh story that explores the wider conflict unfolding across Greece that parallels King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans’ legendary stand at Thermopylae.
This time around, Snyder is producing the film, along with his fellow “300” producers Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton, Deborah Snyder and Bernie Goldmann, and co-wrote the script with his “300” collaborator Kurt Johnstad based on Miller’s graphic novel “Xerxes.” “It’s more of a companion film than a sequel or prequel,” explains Zack Snyder. “This is a sea battle that took place in the same three days as Thermopylae. And with an equally significant outcome.”
On par with the visuals was maintaining the quality of the storytelling in the second chapter, even at the earliest stages of development. Producer Mark Canton notes, “We had the benefit of the amazing work that Zack, Kurt and Frank Miller did to figure out the complex detail of how we could continue `300' in an exciting and authentic way. Frank Miller was there laying it all out, then he’d pass his ideas over to Zack and Kurt, who developed a story that’s philosophical, sexy, romantic, and epic in every sense of the word.”
The idea behind the film was not only to create a companion for the first movie but a thoroughly engaging, entertaining spectacle that stands on its own. “In devising the story, we wanted to make sure that even if you didn’t see the first movie, you’d still be able to track the second movie,” co-screenwriter Kurt Johnstad explains. “But for fans of `300,' it’ll inform not only the setting and emotional tone, but you’ll also have more pieces of the puzzle after seeing the second movie. If you pull the camera out, you’re seeing the environment of Greece at the exact same time that Leonidas is heading north to Thermopylae. The Persians are advancing on land, Xerxes is leading his force to the Hot Gates, and his female Naval commander Artemisia is moving down along the coast of Greece, and just sacking and raiding along the way.”
300: Rise of an Empire” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.