300: Rise of an Empire appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a terrific transfer.
Across the board, the movie displayed excellent definition. Sharpness consistently remained rock-solid, without a hint of softness on display. I saw no jaggies or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws failed to appear as well.
Like the original movie, Empire went with a highly stylized palette. Much of the film opted for a golden tone, though some teal and grey tints also dominated. These looked appropriate given the design choices. Blacks seemed deep and full, and low-light shots came across as smooth and concise. Everything about this image impressed.
I also liked the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. The soundfield created a terrific sense of place and threw out fine action when appropriate, which was often. The movie’s various battle sequences boasted vivid material that showed up around the spectrum in a dynamic manner.
Other aspects of the track satisfied as well. Music always offered good stereo imaging, and quieter scenes were convincing, too. These showed a clear sense of place and meshed together in a pleasing way.
Audio quality always seemed strong. Effects were dynamic and clear, with deep bass and good punch. Music showed similar strengths, as the score was lively and full. Speech came across as natural and concise. I liked this track and thought it added a lot to the movie.
When we shift to extras, we start with The 300 Effect. This domain contains four featurettes: “3 Days in Hell” (7:08), “Brutal Artistry” (9:08), “A New Breed of Hero” (4:49) and “Taking the Battle to Sea” (8:52). In these, we hear from director Noam Murro, producers Mark Canton, Gianni Nunnari, Bernie Goldmann and Deborah Snyder, co-screenwriter/producer Zack Snyder, co-writer Kurt Johnstad, executive producer Thomas Tull, co-producer Wesley Coller, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, Scanline VFX supervisor Bryan Hirota, visual effects supervisor Richard E. Hollander, property master Dirk Buchmann, costume designer Alexandra Byrne, author/historian Bettany Hughes, historian Dr. Ilias Iliopoulos, second unit director/stunt coordinator Damon Caro, and actors Rodrigo Santoro, Sullivan Stapleton, Lena Headey, Andrew Tiernan, Andrew Pleavin, Callan Mulvey and Eva Green.
The shows cover story/characters and connections to the first film, cast and performances, visual design, effects, props and costumes, and shooting action sequences. The featurettes don’t dig into the subjects with great depth, but they contribute a mix of useful notes.
A few more featurettes ensue. Real Leaders and Legends goes for 22 minutes, 52 seconds and offers notes from Hughes, Zack Snyder, Johnstad, Deborah Snyder, Iliopoulos, military historian Victor Davis Hanson and naval historian Boris Rankov. The program looks at the history behind the story told in Empire. The piece moves well and gives us some good insights.
In the 12-minute, 22-second Women Warriors, we hear from Hanson, Coller, Headey, Green, Hughes, Canton, Tull, Nunnari, and Deborah Snyder. “Warriors” provides thoughts about the Artemesia and Gorgo characters as well as the actors’ performances. The show mixes history and movie topics in a satisfying way.
Savage Warships lasts 10 minutes, 36 seconds and features Tatopoulos, Nunnari, Canton, Goldmann, Rankov, Hanson, Hughes, Hirota and Trireme Trust’s Vassilis Dovas. As expected, this one examines the design and depiction of the movie’s sea-going vessels. It offers another pretty solid look behind the scenes.
Finally, we find Becoming a Warrior. It occupies four minutes, 39 seconds with info from Murro, Deborah Snyder, Santoro, Headey, Zack Snyder, Canton, Nunnari, Pleavin, Green, Goldmann, Tull, Mulvey, lead fitness trainer Mark Twight, and actor Hans Matheson. “Warrior” tells us of physical training for the actors. This becomes the least interesting of the featurettes, as it doesn’t give us much substance.
The disc opens with an ad for Jupiter Ascending. No trailer for Empire shows up here.
The package also includes a DVD copy of Empire. This comes with none of the Blu-ray’s extras.
If viewers expect anything new or creative from 300: Rise of an Empire, they won’t find it, as the film offers a virtual clone of its predecessor. This means a lot of slow-motion violence and little actual story. The Blu-ray delivers excellent picture and audio along with a minor set of supplements. Although this becomes a superb disc to show off your home theater, the movie itself does little for me.