300: Rise of an Empire – first images and plot details

Follow-up to 2006's fantasy action blockbuster will pit Sullivan Stapleton against Eva Green

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Fans of Zack Snyder’s stylish 2006’s fantasy action film 300 will be cheered to know that the first images and plot details of its sequel 300: Rise of an Empire have just been made available.

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Smart People director Noam Murro is helming the fantasy follow-up, which stars The Hunter’s Sullivan Stapleton as a Greek general called Themistocles (pictured, left) who battles an invading Persian army.

“Themistocles 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,” Murro told USA Today, outlining the differences between Themistocles and Gerard Butler’s King Leonidas in the original 300.  

“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 flavour of 300.”

While Rise of an Empire takes place in roughly the same time period as 300, the sequel will feature a variety of different locations and see the outnumbered Greeks battling their opponents on both land and water.

Themistocles’s main foe in the new film will be “the vengeful commander of the Persian navy” Artemasia, who’ll be played on screen by Eva Green. She’s the second-in-command to Persian king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and has a personal score to settle with the Greeks, who killed her family while she was a child.

“She does most of Xerxes’ dirty work in this film,” said Stapleton. “She’s seeking revenge, and she does it well. She’s a force to be reckoned with.”

Murro added: “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.”

But while Rise of an Empire will differ from 300 in a number of ways, the original film’s basic theme of a small army battling against seemingly insurmountable odds will remain unchanged.

“The few against the many is still here,” said Murro. “It’s hundreds vs. hundreds of thousands. It’s about taking on the mightiest power of all with wisdom and tactics.”

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300: Rise of an Empire is currently slated for release in the UK on Friday 2 August.