300: Rise of an Empire thrills on Blu-ray


‘300: Rise of an Empire’ makes its home video debut, and this is one movie definitely worth adding to your collection thanks to impressive visuals and Eva Green’s fierce performance.


300: Rise of an Empire makes its way to home video on DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and Digital Download, and if you missed seeing in theaters because you thought it was simply a re-do of the original 300, then now is the time to right that wrong. I won’t go too much into reviewing the movie itself because I already did that when it was in theaters. 300: Rise of an Empire isn’t so much a sequel or a prequel, but an equal (or side-quel, as many labeled it). The story takes place concurrently with the events in 300, and while this movie introduces us to another army and protagonists, led by Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and Artemesia (Eva Green) respectively, we are still following characters from the original movie on the fringes, including Queen Gorgo (Lena Heady), Dilios (David Wenham), Daxos (Andrew Pleavin), and Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro).

The movie, however, truly belongs to Green who brings a fierce determination to Artemesia. Stapleton does a fine job as Themistokles, but he doesn’t have the same presence as Gerard Butler did in 300, and he’s completely upstaged by Green who dominates the movie. In fact, Artemesia is such a distinct character, the lone woman warrior in the gigantic battle, that the rest of the soldiers register simply as handsome, impossibly buff extras whose only function is to run, yell and die. Some of them do have personalities though, like the father and son fighting side-by-side, but Green’s performance is so powerful that you just want to see more of her when she’s not on screen. She single-handedly makes 300: Rise of an Empire a much more interesting, and better, movie than its predecessor.

The movie has more going for it as well, including amazing visuals and special effects, and all of that detail is present on the stunning Blu-ray presentation. The film is a blend of partial physical sets (some of the ships were constructed with a bow and stern with CGI filling in the rest) and green and blue screen trickery, but it’s hard to tell the real from the fake (which includes most of the blood erupting from the soldiers who must have really had some high blood pressure) on the screen. The Blu-ray retains infinite detail from flecks of dust and embers floating in the air to blood specks and stubble on the soldiers’ faces. The color palette is subdued, as intended, but there are bright splashes of red (naturally), gold and blue. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround mix will give your home sound system a real workout with an active surround field and a booming, thundering bass from the subwoofer. This Blu-ray sets a new standard for reference quality. And if you have a 3D set-up at home, be sure to take advantage of that option. While the film was a post-conversion job instead of native 3D, the effect is still stunning for the most part with only a couple of minor problems in some of the wide shots. Overall, though, the 3D version is just as sharp and stunning as the 2D version.

The Blu-ray, while lacking any director or cast commentary track, is still packed with some terrific extras that take viewers behind-the-scenes of making the movie and gives us a historical perspective on the events depicted. The extras include:

Behind the Scenes: The 300 Effect

  • 3 Days in Hell (7:08) — Cast and filmmakers explain how the idea originated for the movie, and how it ties into the original movie, including how characters crossed over between the two.
  • Brutal Artistry (9:08) — Filmmakers discuss the look of the movie and how it compares and builds off of the original, and how the use of 3D enhanced the new movie.
  • A New Breed of Hero (4:49) — A look at how Themistokles differs from Leonidas from a historical perspective.
  • Taking the Battle to Sea (8:52) — Filmmakers discuss how advanced technology allowed them to make this movie that takes place on water without any water. Also, a look at the physical combat and how the actors used partial weapons that were completed with CGI to allow for deeper thrusts into an adversary’s body.

Featurette: Real Leaders & Legends (22:52) — An in-depth look at the historical characters and incidents which became a legend which became the basis for the fiction of both movies.
Featurette: Women Warriors (12:22) — Eva Green, Lena Heady, filmmakers and historians talk about the women’s roles in history and in the movie. (Some material is repeated from the previous featurette.)
Featurette: Savage Warships (10:36) — A look at the warships, historical and fictional.
Behind the Scenes: Becoming a Warrior (4:39) — A brief look at the physical training required of the actors.

300: Rise of an Empire is a thrilling, entertaining action flick that might seem geared towards a male audience (and the original movie definitely skewed that way), but the inclusion of Eva Green should bring female viewers to the party as well. It will be interesting to see if someone at the studio will one day consider cutting the two movies together to create one giant epic.

The home video release is available in several versions including a Blu-ray/DVD Combo, a Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD Combo (the DVD itself has no extra features), and a 2-disk DVD special edition with the bonus features from the Blu-ray included on the second DVD. All versions come with a Digital (DVD) and HD Digital (Blu-ray) Ultraviolet copy. Our thanks to Warner Home Entertainment for providing the Blu-ray 3D package for review.


Photo Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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