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9.2 10 10
FanMix October 26, 2014 7106
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Being a huge fan of the testosterone driven 300, I was not-so-very-but-still-a-bit anxious to see its pre-/se-/interquel 300: Rise of an Empire.

I should have known... Bar a handful of exceptions, Hollywood no longer has the creativity to handle sequels like it once had. There are no Empire Strikes Backs, The Godfather Part II's or other similar masterpieces in this decade's films. Bar a handful of exceptions. Rise of an Empire is not an exception. Trying to gap the bridge between to films when you have almost no one of the original cast to your disposal is one of the most ludicrous, impossible things one could try. I applaud their efforts, but it still feels as if they failed.

Aztec tried to bridge the two in a two-hour-ish epic. He succeeded partially, but his efforts are highly recommended viewing. If his edit lacks in execution, it is only because of the source material.

Everything flowed nicely and I didn't notice any hiccups, save one. When Captain Astemis' eldest son, Artemis, is decapitated, the sound drops considerably in a matter of seconds. It made it clear something was missing. This flaw, if you will, is also the one moment where Aztec's skills are best evident. Up until that point I had COMPLETELY forgotten that Dillios' had been narrating the whole thing in the original feature! Aztec did a fantastic job at keeping the plot going, not having missed a beat where Dillios would try to fill the gap with storytelling.

Added grain (and other effects?) did a commendable job in bringing the slightly visual styles of both films closer together.

The parts that were left out were never missed. Every time someone was mentioned, the next scene cut to that person. A great example was where Themistocles visited Gorgo while Leonidas was out. To show Leonidas was withheld elsewhere, Aztec then cut to Leonidas visiting the Oracle. Great craftsmanship, and it really made it feel as if the stories were interflowing, rather than making up for the original cast not having returned (as was the case). It was disappointing to see the arrogant Xerxes of the original 300 be reduced to the puppet he was in 300 RoaE. He was controlled, told what to say and do, and only seldom did he show a spark of arrogance, which was then in contrast to his puppet-like nature, that in turn did not help making his character believable. If both stories truly played back-to-back, he should have been arrogant from the start. in 300 RoaE he swayed back and forth, while Artemisia proved the real villain. Again a fault of the source material, which Aztec tried his best fixing.

Despite Aztec's great efforts, 300 Rise of an Empire is still an underwhelming sequel compared to its grand predecessor 300. It was everything I'd been looking for in an action film for quite some time. Aztec's fanedit strips the sequel of its shortcomings and ties it into the original film to bring a better storytelling experience of the brave Spartans than the original sequel ever could.

Comes highly recommended for fans of 300 and those who like the sequel but prefer the original.
*NOTE: Gave an 8 for enjoyment. Was looking for 7.5 but 7 does not do it justice.
8 for narrative because of the inferior 300 RoaE storyline.

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