Last night’s brief “300: Rise of an Empire 3D Fan Event” flexed enough 3-dimensional cinematic muscle to put this fan chomping at the bit to see more. Though the screening was a mere 13 minutes, it contained everything we loved from the 2006 picture – rousing speeches, expert sword work, and gallons upon gallons of Persian blood. Even from my brief exposure to the film, I’m willing to say that it makes some of the best use of 3D that I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen Piranha: 3D.
The trailer for Rise of an Empire gave us plenty to look forward to. We knew that Xerxes will be up to his old anti-Greek shenanigans again, pushing the cloud of Persian rule farther and farther over Greece and sporting the latest in golden facial accessories while he’s at it. The trailer also shows us the historically accurate partnership between the golden boy and one of the most famous she-warriors of history, Artemisia (Eva Green).
What the trailer couldn’t possibly prepare you for is the masterful use of 3D that ROAE offers. The opening Battle of Marathon scene sets the bar high with shots that fly through billowing Persian sails and follow the flight of speeding Persian arrows. An early shot of Xerxes wielding a Persian battle axe (also present in the trailer) sends the business end of the weapon out over the audience, getting one “jump moment” out of the viewers right off the bat. But the real 3D gem of this early section is the blood. The Athenian struggle against the beasts from the east have them throwing fountains of blood out at the audience with every sword to the gut and shield to the neck.
Lena Headey reprises her role as Queen Gorgo, now a widow of the dramatic Battle of Thermopylae. (Warner Brothers)
While introducing new characters like our hero Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) and Artemesia, this early section of ROAE also gives us a deeper look at the history of Xerxes. We see the relationship between he and his father Darius (Igal Naor) and how he initially developed his thirst for victory over Greece. The most intriguing element of this dense look into Xerxes’ past is how much influence Artemisia has over his God-kingship. Can’t say that I blame him for taking her notes; Eva Green is so stunning as Artemisia that I’d probably invade Greece for her too.
Our surviving Persian villain is seen here taking a gold bath. In Classical times it was important to maintain the most elegant form of hygiene possible. (Warner Brothers)
From this history nerd’s perspective, ROAE offers a thematic foundation that 300 couldn’t – a cause the modern viewer can get behind. This being a story of Athens, ousting Persian rule means not just maintaining the sovereignty of a city-state but the preservation of democracy, something most of us can immediately relate to. More specifically, the audience will also find it easy to get behind our hero Themistocles, who in history was considered something of a rags to riches general and remained a champion of the poor throughout most of his career. It remains to be seen if these elements of Themistocles’ historical character will make it in to the film.
Catch 300: Rise of an Empire in all its three dimensions of glory on March 7th.
Note: Legendary Pictures owns Nerdist Industries, which remains editorially independent.