300: Rise of an Empire takes place before, during, and after the events depicted in the movie 300 (2006). The focus is on the Battle of Artemisium, with the Greeks being led by Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) and the Persians led by Artemisia (Eva Green).
Gerard Butler doesn't technically appear in this movie, unless you count the few brief scenes from the first movie, seen in the prologue. Stapleton does a pretty good job, but he's not as much fun to watch as Butler was. Luckily, Eva Green is here to pick up the slack.
The scenes with her are the most enjoyable in the movie. Artemisia's back story is her family was killed when she was a young girl, and she was held as a prisoner for many years. Eventually she was freed and adopted by the father of Xerxes, or something like that. As portrayed by Green, she is incredible fierce and ruthless. In one scene, she takes out her sword, cuts off a man's head, then kisses is full on the lips. She also has a very violent sex scene with Themistocles during a brief truce between the two sides. I thought they might kill each other before they finished, and it was the highlight of the movie.
Unfortunately most of the movie is like watching someone else play a video game. The battle scenes consist of mostly the same stuff over and over and it gets dull. It also doesn't help that every sword strike is shown in slow motion, so that we can see the blood slowly fly in our faces.
There is a story here, but it amounts to maybe 10 minutes of screen time. The characters aren't developed enough for me to care about them, and I just got numb to the action. I really just don't care about this movie or what happens to any of the characters.