’300: Rise of an Empire’ trailer teases vengeance, bloodshed, war

Jan. 20, 2014 | 11:50 a.m.

Lena Headey’s Queen Gorgo seeks vengeance for the events of “300″ in a new trailer for “300: Rise of an Empire.”

Directed by TV commercial ace Noam Murro and produced by Zack Snyder, “Rise of an Empire” is not a sequel or a prequel but a free-standing tale 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 last 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 trailer, released Wednesday, shows Headey’s queen at what appears to be her husband’s (“300′s” Leonidas, played by Gerard Butler) funeral pyre, accompanied by new hero Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton).

“Leonidas and the brave 300 are dead,” the tearful Gorgo says. “Have I not given enough for dream of a united Greece, Themistocles? A king. A husband.”

“Avenge him,” Themistocles replies, setting the scene for the events of “Rise of an Empire.”

The film once again pits the Greeks against the Persians, led by god-king Xerxes, the nefarious 9-foot-tall antagonist played by Rodrigo Santoro, and Artemisia I of Caria, a Persian naval commander played by Eva Green (“Casino Royale”). Artemisia is portrayed as a blood-thirsty warrior, eager for conquest.

“The ecstasy of steel and flesh, sweat and muscle and rage,” she says in the trailer. “War.”

And the Greeks seem to fear her, too.

“She has sold her soul to death himself,” Themistocles warns. “She’s going to bring all of hell with her.”

“She’s the toughest character I’ve ever played,” Green said at Comic-Con. “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.”

Eva Green in "300: Rise of an Empire." (Legendary Pictures / Warner Bros.)

Eva Green in “300: Rise of an Empire.” (Legendary Pictures / Warner Bros.)

The trailer shows brutal and bloody action scenes, set to Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,”as Artemisia and Themistocles wage naval warfare.

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

“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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