This first 300 was pretty enjoyable. Full of mindless action, containing a rather memorable sequence that has spawned countless imitations plus there's more half-naked, rather buff and good looking men than you can shake a stick at. It was one of those movies that if you don't think too hard about it, turns out to be a lot better than expected.
The story is quite similar to the original; Themistokles (Stapleton) has to lead an army of Greek men against the treacherous advancing Persian armies, lead by Artemisia (Green). Significantly outnumbered, Themistokles has to use everything in his arsenal to push back the Persians and win the battle. Sounds slightly familiar, yes? On top of this there is a rather nice back story about the Persian God Xerxes on how started off as the brooding bearded human and gradually turned into a mammoth God, with enough bling to kit out a thousand countries.
Instead of being able to switch off and enjoy it's sword swinging action, which is present here in buckets, when watching the film, you can't quite shake off the feeling that the original did it much better. And the special effects, clearly on a lower budget, are extremely off putting. When the first fake blood splatter hits, you'll be picking apart the rest of the film for a long time after.
It's not that Rise of an Empire is downright terrible because it's not, it's just that it brings nothing new to the table. Rise of an Empire treads the same formula from the original whilst containing nothing memorable of it's own to set it apart; it's all been seen before and it's been done better.
300: Rise of an Empire is watchable. But it's a Hit Stop; at least on DVD anyway. Perhaps it's best to wait until it comes on TV if you really want to watch it.