First low res stills from 300: Rise of an Empire feature star Sullivan Stapleton and seafaring warriors

It's always a little strange to me when "exclusive images" are debuted at the resolution I'd expect on my old Acer computer from 1998, but whatever. You roll with what you get. USA Today has dropped a first look at a few images from 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, the follow-up to Zack Snyder's uber-successful 300, which was based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller. Obviously, they couldn't continue with the original cast as they were all killed (spoiler!), but they've had no trouble continuing the story, which is more of a "parallel" film rather than a straight sequel, taking place around the same timeframe as the original.

This time out "Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and his common-man troops fight the rest of the Persian army at sea," which "is tied visually to the original," but "there is a whole different choreography of fighting and war,'' says director Noam Murro (uh, SMART PEOPLE?). 

The para-sequel focuses primarily on the sea battle that took place about the same time as the Battle of Thermopylae, with the chief villain being Artemesia, played by Eva Green, who is said to be a vengeful commander of the Persian navy, answering only to Xerxes, the leader of the Persian army (and once again played by Rodrigo Santoro).

"She does most of Xerxes' dirty work in this film. She's seeking revenge, and she does it well. She's a force to be reckoned with." says Stapleton.

Murro agrees, saying:

"She's got sex appeal, she's ruthless and conniving. All the things that kill men. And she has a sword. I wouldn't mess with her."

Zack Snyder co-wrote the screenplay to the sequel and worked to alter the themes, while staying true to their spirit. Stapleton (star of Showtime's Strikeback) isn't exactly a mirror image of Gerard Butler's Leonidas, according to Murro:

"Themistokles is battle-scarred and a warrior, but at the same time he's a politician. He's not the king. He has to rule in a democracy. It's a different complexity of character."

The warriors, too, are a different breed, says Murro:

"These people don't want to fight, they even say that they are not Spartans," says Murro. "They are common people who have to do this to not be in under the rule of a dictator. This is not a duplicate movie or a cookie-cutter. It's a very different story to tell in keeping with the original flavor of 300."

The lack of Snyder and Butler make this one a tough sell for me.  Mostly becaue it feels like they're trying to squeeze blood out of an orange. I'd prefer to leave 300 as the red-blooded classic it is. However, I'll save my final judgment for a trailer (which I'd expect to drop very soon). I can easily be swayed if the goods look like they'll deliver, however. It's still early.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE starts dining in Hell on August 2, 2013.

Extra Tidbit: What do you think? Are you game for this, vehemently against it, or on the fence?
Source: USA Today



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