Netflix R-Rated Comic Book Epic Sequel Is The Best Movie You Missed In Theaters

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

Streaming services seem to offer infinite choices, so it’s easy to let some of the most thrilling cinematic experiences slip through the cracks. But don’t sleep on 300: Rise of an Empire, the R-rated comic book-inspired epic that thrilled audiences in theaters and, for new fans, just moved into the Netflix neighborhood.

The sequel to the iconic 300, the film packs a punch, expanding on the visceral storytelling that made the OG famous while furthering the franchise’s aesthetic and semi-historical universe. 

Sequel With Shirtless Spartans And Spears

300: Rise of an Empire

Shifting the focus from the famously (infamously?) shirtless Spartan warriors leaping in slow motion to slice n’ dice the Persian army, the sequel relates the adventures of the famed Athenian navy. Their leader, the formidable General Themistocles (played by Sullivan Stapleton), commands his fleet at the heart of 300: Rise of an Empire concurrently with the Spartans locking spears on land.  

The parallel narrative enriches the series’ overall lore while, on a more micro level, basking in all the glory of Themistocles’ quest to unite Greece before the invading Persian forces win the day. In this thrilling sequel, Eva Green plays the Persian leader, the cunning Artemisia, compellingly. 

Jam-Packed With Semi-Historical Action

300: Rise of an Empire

Of course, the stylized, hyper-accentuated action sequences that endeared fans to the original movie are on full display and weave engagingly with historical events; it all lends everything to the majesty of Homeric epic. An additional, history-buff-approved thematic element strengthens the movie, as Themistocles’ mission amounts to more than besting the Persians but uniting the fractured Greek city-states. 

An Ambitious Expansion

300: Rise of an Empire

While it benefited from its association with its predecessor, 300: Rise of an Empire earned mixed reviews from critics, who nonetheless recognized the prowess of its action sequences, the visual style, and Green’s unique performance. While many experts considered it an inferior project compared with 300, experts, on the whole, applauded its sheer scope and expansion of the franchise’s universe into interesting territory. 

On the other hand, audiences took to the film with open arms, relishing its relentless energy and robust spectacle. A success at the box office, it’s no surprise the film is now streaming for today’s bingers, and a broader audience is assured.

Layered With Heavy Lore

300: Rise of an Empire

Part of its probable latter-day appeal stems from 300: Rise of an Empire panning back and conveying more context surrounding the immense, history-making war between the Greek city-states and the Persian empire. The more significant strategic battles between Greece and Persia, embodied in the Athenian navy, deliver a more layered, lore-heavy package. 

Of course, the high-level visual style, unmistakable and always striking, keeps the viewer locked in. Thank director Noam Murro for maintaining the novel aesthetic pioneered by Zack Snyder in the first film, while increasing the bells and whistles via more advanced CGI and 3D technology. It all makes for more immersive battle scenes. 

This Is Sparta!

300: Rise of an Empire

Ultimately, 300: Rise of an Empire is a thrilling continuation of the epic saga begun ironically with 300. The maritime setting and unforgettable action sequences make this R-rated comic book extravaganza one to stream if you’re in the mood for that signature, Snyder-esque aesthetic. 

Watch 300: Rise of an Empire today.