300: Rise of an Empire, the long-awaited follow-up to the blood-splattering, ab-glistening 2006 action epic, 300 has released its very first official images. Not only that, but plot details have been finally dropped giving fans a much-needed clarification on the film, which was vaguely known to depict the historical Battle of Artemisia.
The summer sequel, thus far shrouded in mystery, has revealed its visual tone by way of this set of photos released to USA Today. Clearly, it echoes its predecessor film quite a bit.
One photo gives us a proper hero shot of our protagonist, Athenian general, Themistokles played by Sullivan Stapleton (Gangster Squad). A legitimate historical figure in his own right, Themistokles will carry the burden of leading the armies of Athens into battle in the wake of the legendary sacrifice of King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans depicted in the previous film. However, Themistokles will be quite a different hero than Gerard Butler's war-reaping well-kicker of a king. A more complex thinker, Themistokles will be the type of leader presented in a more modern context, that of a warrior who must also adhere to the nuances of politics. According to the USA Today report, which nabbed info straight from the source with director, Noam 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."
Besides a deeper protagonist, the dynamic of the film's various battles may also be equally upgraded in complexity. While the eccentric gold-gorged Persian king, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) will indeed return, the film's encompassing antagonism could actually be between Themistokles and Xerxes' radiant ravaging female Persian general, Artemisia (Eva Green). The comely commander, carrying her own vendettas against the Greeks into battle will, much like Themistokles, be a more cerebral nemesis. Surely set to sport Eva Green's well-known beauty, never will oblivion look so enticing. It's a dynamic which could potentially create an odd type of sexual tension between the two leaders amidst the grandiose battles.
Check below for more and a full look at the new photos!
Another photo gives us an important look at a group of Greek warriors on a small naval ship as they prepare to engage the Persian army in what will surely be a buffet of butchery. The image consequently gives us our very first look at the maritime theater of this war; a place the original film did not explore that will prove to be quite crucial to the events of this film. According to Murro, Rise of an Empire will depict six major battles. Further elaborating, Murro states that each battle:
"happens over time in many different locations. The opportunities for the six distinct battles are even greater with different locations and tactics.''
Another important aspect of the film was revealed on the subject of the Greek army that Thermistokles will command. Unlike the Spartans depicted in the previous film who were bred from birth to be warriors and craved the clashes of combat like a kid in a candy store, this army will be a far cry from the (literally) well-oiled machine that Leonidas led. It seems that, much like wars not too far back in American history, Themistokles will have a legion of unwilling conscripts on his hands who have been plucked from their working-class lives before being handed spears and shields. According to Murro:
"These people don't want to fight, they even say that they are not Spartans. 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."
So, will Sullivan Stapleton's Themistokles be the luck-deprived coach of a Bronze Age Bad News Bears of battle?
300: Rise of an Empire desperately looks for a ringer to carry the Greek army when it hits theaters on August 2.