300: Rise of an Empire arrives onto blu-ray with MPEG-4 AVC (27.51 Mbps) 1080p 2.40:1 encode. The transfer is a first-rate stunner, with an exceedingly refined image faithful to Murro and DP Simon Duggan's blood-soaked vision and flawless even in the face of the film's most frenetic action scenes. Colours are desaturated and stylized as intended, with opulent golds, sun-bathed ambers, stormy blues, visceral reds and deep, inky blacks. Contrast remains vibrant throughout. Edges are razor sharp. This transfer litters the screen with every juicy, bloody detail: drops of sweat glisten with shocking clarity, distinctive individual wrinkles on the faces of the cast, also exposing pores and the tiniest blemish on their lifelike complexions. (5/5)
300: Rise of an Empire 3D arrives onto blu-ray with MPEG-4 MVC 1080p 2.40:1 encode. Though converted in post, the resulting 3D experience is beautifully realized, with a proficient picture backed by absorbing depth and convincing dimensionality. Foreground objects pop, background elements retreat naturally into the distance, and the Athenian and Persian ships exist believably in a spatially sound ocean-scape. Arterial eruptions spray outward. Sword tips all but pierce the fourth wall. In 3D, the film seems even deadlier. (4.5/5)
AUDIO (2D & 3D):
Similarly, the DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio lossless track is also first-class. Right from the start, as stone-like doors open to reveal the ending of the first movie, the track impresses with a deliberate design that commences subtly in the center and gradually widens, slowly spreading to the sides and rears before slamming with a deep, hard bass note. This mix presents with an immersive soundfield, filled with a variety of noises, from the daily activities of townfolk to the sounds of wildlife in the distance. Action sequences are, of course, the highlight, as the room fills with the roars of soldiers all around, weapons flying through the air, the winds of a violent storm blowing through the night or the loud sharp cracks of thunder overhead. Dialogue is intelligible, with perfectly prioritized voices. (5/5)
Based on Frank Miller's latest graphic novel Xerxes and told in the breathtaking visual style of the previous blockbuster 300, this new chapter of the epic saga takes the action to a fresh battlefield - on the sea - as Greek general Themistokles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. 300: Rise of an Empire pits Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes, and Artemesia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy. Ultimately, the only difference between the two movies is the two leads: Sullivan Stapleton as the theatrically gallant Themistocles and the stunningly beautiful Eva Green in a winning performance as the brilliant military strategist Artemisia. (3.5/5)
300: Rise of an Empire has an estimated budget of $110 million, but has a respectable $331 million worldwide gross. The original 300 grossed $457 million in 2006.
The 3D set comes with a 3D lenticular front cover. The packaging itself is less satisfactory, with the 3D disc stacked on top of the 2D disc. Come on, Warner, you can do better than that! Put the 3D and 2D discs in their own slipcases!
Despite being stylishly identical to Zack Snyder's wildly imaginative adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel, 300: Rise of an Empire is a passably entertaining follow-up that neither complements nor augments its predecessor. Other than for the visual design, the film's only genuine highlight is Eva Green's deliciously evil performance as the film's seductive villainess. The 2D version arrives with stunning, reference-quality audio and video presentation, with a respectable post-conversion 3D. This set is recommended.