Days before Zack Snyder delivers the newest vision of Superman to the world with “Man of Steel,” fans of the director’s films are getting a glimpse at a follow-up to his first comic-book movie. “300: Rise of an Empire” continues the story that Snyder started in his 2006, this time under the direction of Noam Murro.
To celebrate the release of the first trailer for “300: Rise of an Empire,” MTV News got on the phone with Murro to walk us through what’s new this time around, what will stay the same, and how the new ocean battles made things more complicated for the sword-and-sandals sequel.
“300: Rise of an Empire” largely takes place concurrently with the epic battles from the original “300,” but as Murro explained, the scope of these battles are much bigger and consider a larger picture of ancient Greece.
“The idea of this movie was always that it takes place at about the same time of the first one,” he said. “It’s as if you zoomed out and saw a bigger time frame and told a bigger story of what happened in ’300.’ The first movie speaks to the detail of this sequel.”
Taking a step back in the story also means that the battles will expand from the surprisingly small scale of the first film. “I think ’300’ was wonderfully done in an operatic way, one location almost, and explore that,” Murro said. “This is a much larger palette, historically and geographically. It is larger in scale, and it takes place on water.”
Taking To The Sea
As the trailer shows, much of the action in “300: Rise of an Empire” will take place on ships at sea, and the change of venue made digitally creating a believable environment more difficult. “The challenges are numerous in a sense that as technology develops, what happens is we shot this entire movie dry, meaning there was no water involved,” Murro said. “You are really in a situation that you have to create a sense that the boats are really moving and sense that they are really in water, but they’re not. It’s a challenge from a technological point of view, from a visual point of view, also for the actors and also for me in terms of trying to simulate what that would feel like.”
The big aspect the separated Snyder’s “300” was the CGI-heavy aesthetic of film, and when returning to the world, Murro had an eye on advancing the look without leaving it behind entirely.
“I think that was the great thing about working with Zack and working with the studio. The idea was always to create a point of reference of the old movie, but technologically and visually push it further up the hill,” he said. “It really is quite a difference in the way that it feels and looks. It does happen in water, and geographically, it is open. I think we’ve pushed it from a visual spectacle uphill, but the roots of this tree are grounded in the ’300’ world. We wanted to create different styles of battles, and there are very distinct ones in this movie. There’s the fire battle and the fog battle.”
A Hero And A Villain
Even though the source material for “300: Rise of an Empire” comes from a Frank Miller graphic novel called “Xerxes,” the Persian king takes a back seat to the new hero, Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), and a new villain, Artemisia (Eva Green). “The two new characters here are Themistocles and Artemisia. Those two characters are at the heart of this movie and are really driving it,” Murro said. “I don’t want to spoil it, but the heart of the movie is between these two characters.”
But that doesn’t mean you would see much of Rodrigo Santoro, who is reprising his role from the first film. “You’ll feel Xerxes’ presence, but it’s really Themistocles and Artemisia’s movie,” Murro said. “From a thematic point of view, he’s truly important part of this movie.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “300: Rise of an Empire,” out in 2014.