’300: Rise of an Empire’ trailer spotlights Eva Green’s Artemisia

Dec. 04, 2013 | 1:34 p.m.

The Greek and Persian warriors from Zack Snyder’s “300″ take to the sea in a new trailer for the film’s follow-up, “300: Rise of an Empire.”

The trailer, released Wednesday, begins with scenes of violence and destruction on the water, with a voice-over from Lena Headey’s Queen Gorgo.

“The oracle’s words stand as a warning,” she says. “Sparta will fall. All of Greece will fall. And only stout, wooden ships can save them. Wooden ships and a tidal wave of heroes’ blood.”

Directed by TV commercial ace Noam Murro and produced by Snyder, “Rise of an Empire” is not a sequel or a prequel but its own free-standing thing, set in the same world and taking place before, during and after the events of “300.”

The story is based on Frank Miller’s “Xerxes” (“300″ was based on Miller’s landmark graphic novel of the same name) and the historical Battle of Artemisium, a naval engagement concurrent with “300′s” battle at Thermopylae.

“If you took ‘300’ and you zoomed out, that’s what this movie is all about,” Murro said at Comic-Con International in San Diego this summer. “It takes place at about the same time as ‘300,’ it’s just bigger and it gives a whole bigger scale and scope as to what happened historically.”

The film aims to reveal more of the back story for Xerxes, the nefarious 9-foot-tall antagonist played by Rodrigo Santoro.

“I think that he had his reasons to do what he was doing,” Santoro said of his character. “He was trying to do what his father was doing. His father was killed. You’re going to get to see in this movie where he’s coming from.”

But more than any other character, the new trailer casts a spotlight on Eva Green (“Casino Royale”), who plays Artemisia I of Caria, a Persian naval commander driven by vengeance to destroy the Greeks. At the beginning of the trailer, she tells Rodrigo Santoro’s Xerxes, “Only the gods can defeat the Greeks. You will be the god-king.”

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What follows is two and a half minutes of action, bloodshed and Artemisia’s brutal naval battle against the Greeks.

“She’s the toughest character I’ve ever played,” Green said. “It’s always been a fantasy for me to play a character who’s a woman with swords. She’s so ballsy, she’s so brave, independent, she’s fearless, ruthless. I call her kind of a ruthless Joan of Arc.”

The film also stars Sullivan Stapleton as new protagonist Themistokles. Jack O’Connell plays Calisto, Hans Matheson plays Aesyklos, Callan Mulvey plays Scyllias, David Wenham plays Dilios, Andrew Tiernan as Ephialtes, Igal Naor plays King Darius and Andrew Pleavin plays Daxos.

Producer Snyder, of course, is the director of “Man of Steel,” his first major hit since “300.” In between came “Watchmen,”  “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” and “Sucker Punch.” Snyder is also directing the upcoming untitled Batman/Superman film, which, Warner Bros. announced Wednesday, will also star Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

“300″ was a box-office hit, despite controversy surrounding the portrayal of Xerxes and his Persian army as an effete villain and a savage horde; the Iranian Academy of the Arts filed a formal complaint through the United Nations, denouncing the film’s take on Iran’s history.

“Empire” is slated to hit theaters March 7. Click through the gallery above for scenes from the first “300.”

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+

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