Imagine "300" with more of a woman's touch and you've got a good idea of what to expect with "300: Rise of an Empire," the sequel to the 2007 screen adaptation of Frank Miller's celebrated historical (-ish) graphic novel, "300."
Warner Bros. wisely opens the trailer with narration by Lena Headey, whose sexy yet authoritative voice is now quite familiar to audiences thanks to the runaway HBO hit, "Game of Thrones," followed by images from the original "300" to get audiences back in the right frame of mind ("Oh yeah, that movie I saw more than six years ago!").
Headey returns as Queen Gorgo, now the widow of Leonidas (Gerard Butler), the mighty warrior king who led an army of 300 Spartan men against the invading Persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae (which involve, among other bizarre things, a "battle rhino" or two) — and died valiantly in battle.
Watch the first trailer for '300: Rise of an Empire':
"Rise of an Empire" originally went under the title "Battle of Artemisium" (but who can pronounce that, right?) and centers around the naval engagement that ran concurrent with the Battle of Thermopylae that pitted an alliance of Greek city-states against Persian forces. The film also focuses on the Battle of Salamis, of which a major player was Artemisia (Eva Green), the only female commander under the rule of Persian king Xerxes (the rather intimidating-looking Rodrigo Santoro), who gained notoriety as "the God-King."
It's nice to see such a strong female presence in a world that was just so exhaustively manly before, but otherwise "300: Rise of an Empire" looks to be pretty close to its predecessor in tone, scope and especially visual style. Zack Snyder produces but doesn't direct this one, but you could've fooled us — director Noam Murro (who called the shots on the 2008 indie drama "Smart People") utilizes the fantastical CG landscapes, grand action sequences with sudden speed changes and lusty character histrionics that Zack used to such gloriously extreme and pulpy effect in the original "300."
Even if it's been quite a while since the original "300," "Rise of an Empire" definitely draws its appeal from other sources, not the least of which is the popularity of "Game of Thrones" — which might be what inspired Warner Bros. execs to go forward with this seemingly unnecessary sequel in the first place. It's definitely got the cross-appeal thanks to Ms. Headey, who's having quite the career re-invention playing Angry Powerful Women (ave you seen her as the scarred villain in "Dredd"? Whoa!).
"300: Rise of an Empire" will commence with screaming "SPARTA!!" in theaters on March 7, 2014.