Audiences are given a second 300 film eight years after the sensational epic.

Opening with a powerful and intense battle scene, 300: Rise of an Empire is set in the midst of a political war. Greek general of Athens, Themistokles, leads an army against Persian forces led by Xerxes, once mortal but now gilded god, and Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

The story of Rise of an Empire is more convoluted than its predecessor, tracing its story before, during, and after the bloody battle at Thermopylae led by King Leonidas.  We see Xerxes mortal and how he comes to be a god. We meet Artemisia, Greek, murderous commander for Persian Xerxes. We follow the path of Athenian Themistokles and his role against the rise of Persia at the helm of Artemisia.

The film starts strongly but as it progresses the time frame for the story becomes increasingly longer and more complicated. At first Rise of an Empire feels like a prequel.  The plot then marches forward, we discover the plot of 300: Rise of an Empire coexists with that of 300. The mesmerizing effect of an impossible battle and simplicity of a snapshot within a war surpasses to confusion and falters as an overly long onslaught in gore.

Sullivan Stapleton is our leader Themistokles. He does not have the prowess nor the commanding nature that demands respect and power. Eva Green is his opposite of the film, Artemisia. Green plays Artemisia unforgivably barbarous, mercilessly inhumane and yet it does not feel like a perversion.

Fans of the 2006 film will enjoy the legend’s return.  The directorial styling brings you back to the epic original set in Sparta while feeling authentic. Mammoth assaults and vicious deaths will satiate the need for carnage. Perhaps on its own Rise of an Empire would stand tall but against is magnificent predecessor it is not nearly as impressive.