Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: 300: Rise of an Empire vs. I, Frankenstein, two action-packed graphic novel adaptations with classical roots.
Premise300: Rise of an Empire is the follow-up to the 2007 blockbuster 300, and tells the story of Greek general Themistocles’ (Sullivan Stapleton’s) attempts to battle an invading army of Persians, led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and Artemesia (Eva Green, who looks especially badass), commander of the Persian navy. Cue a multitude of epic battle scenes at sea. I, Frankenstein is set in a dystopic present, in which Victor Frankenstein’s monstrous superhuman, Adam (Aaron Eckhart), is caught in the middle of a battle for ultimate power between clans of fierce gargoyles and ferocious demons. As both sides race to discover the secret to Adam’s immortality, he realizes he holds the key that could destroy mankind. Personally, we’d rather watch hot Greeks and Persians battle it out than creepy gargoyles and demons. Greek history it is on this one.Advantage: 300: Rise of an Empire
Classical Inspiration300: Rise of an Empire draws on the ancient Greek Battle of Artemisium and the life of King Xerxes of Persia, while I, Frankenstein creates a modern-day interpretation of Mary Shelley’s nineteenth century monster. We love a good literary adaptation, but the Frankenstein thing is a little been-there, done-that. (Van Helsing, anyone? Plus, a 2015 adaptation with James McAvoy is reportedly filming right now.) We’ll give this one to the Greeks by default.Advantage: 300: Rise of an Empire
Director300: Rise of an Empire is directed by Noam Murro, whose only previous feature is the 2008 dramedy Smart People. Australian writer-director Stuart Beattie is at the helm of I, Frankenstein, having most recently written and directed the 2010 drama Tomorrow, When the War Began. While both men have limited directing experience, Stuart Beattie is an established screenwriter (he worked on a little thing called Pirates of the Caribbean). Beattie penned I, Frankenstein and then assumed the role as its director, so double duty wins this one.Advantage: I, Frankenstein
Leading Men300: Rise of an Empire stars Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton, best known for his work on the Cinemax television show Strike Back. I, Frankenstein features heavy-hitter Aaron Eckhart in a performance vaguely reminiscent of his twisted turn as “Two-Face” Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight.Advantage: I, Frankenstein
VisualsThe visual style of the original 300 (directed by Zack Snyder) is all but legendary at this point, and though the sequel has a different director, Snyder acted as a writer and producer on Rise of an Empire. The sequel seems to have a lot of the same high-contrast shots and slow-motion battle scenes as its predecessor, complete with the use of some Black Sabbath classic rock to spice up the fighting. I, Frankenstein looks visually epic as well, but we have high hopes for Murro’s take on Snyder’s style.Advantage: 300: Rise of an Empire
ExpectationsWe all know how haywire the book-to-movie transition can go. But 300: Rise of an Empire has the added weight of being the long-anticipated sequel to 300, without Gerard Butler (and his abs) to sweeten the deal. The pressure is on for the Greeks. Advantage: 300: Rise of an Empire
The VerdictWith Snyder overseeing things at Rise of an Empire, we can’t help but feel that this sequel is in good hands. I, Frankenstein, on the other hand, could easily end up being completely ridiculous (one word for you: “gargoyles”). If for no other reasons than the cutting-edge aesthetics and the shirtless battle scenes, we’re holding out for 300: Rise of an Empire.
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