Ror Reviews: 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE
Noam Murro's follow up to Zack Snyder's sword 'n sandals gorefest hits theaters this weekend. Does it match up to the original? Or is it more Meet The Spartans than 300? Find out what I thought after the jump.
Lets be honest; nobody really gave a damn if we ever got a sequel to Zack Snyder's 300 or not. Even the biggest fans of that highly entertaining flick realized it was a self contained story, and any follow up would be pretty much redundant. Having said that, there was always the possibility that we'd at least get a halfway decent action flick with a few cheap thrills, and when the first trailer was released a collective "oh, that doesn't look that bad actually" echoed around the interwebs.
I agree - it didn't. But I'm sorry to report, it is.
The narrative is actually structured so the movie works (or at least, is supposed to work) as a prequel, a side-sequel, and a sequel to 300. We begin before the events of the first movie, with Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton..instantly forgettable) taking out Xerxes' (Rodrigo Santoro) father Darius - an event the future God-king witnesses. From there we see a few naval skirmishes that're supposed to be happening around the same time as the battle of Thermopylae, and things culminate in one final epic clash which occurs after Leonidas' and his brave 300 have perished.
It's certainly ambitious, and the action scenes are well handled by director Noam Murro, but ultimately everything just gets too repetitive. Love him or hate him, when Snyder made 300 the slow motion battle scenes and OTT digital blood splatter were fresh and stylish..even if it was at the expense of a bit of substance. But here Murro tediously attempts to outdo him, almost to the point of parody (yes, Meet The Spartans did come to mind). It doesn't help that our heroes are a boring, shouty bunch of cardboard cutouts. Gerard Butler and co. may not have been what you'd call well rounded characters, but enough was done to ensure we at least gave half a damn what happened to them; and there was also a sense of humor to go along with the silly macho camaraderie. Not here. There's Themistocles, who screeches unintentionally hilarious "rousing" speeches to his men. There's his mate with the beard who we remember because he speaks a few lines; and then there's the other guy with the beard and his battle-hungry son, who we also remember because...they say some words. These guys are so superfluous that even the movie forgets to show us what happens to some of them.
Thank Zeus then, for Eva Green’s Artemisia. The French actress is frequently the highlight of every movie she appears in, and it's no different in this one. Her character is a villain - a particularly ruthless, bloodthirsty one at that - but she's so damn entertaining that you'll probably find yourself rooting for her over her male stripper enemies. Green is responsible for pretty much every memorable moment in this movie (you'll have to see the angry sex scene to believe it), and is missed whenever she's off-screen.
300: Rise Of An Empire is saved from one-star ignominy by a smattering of inventive action, a sex scene for the ages, and of course, Miss Green - but it's a mess in pretty much every other respect. I looked at my watch twice during a 90-minute movie full of blood, boobs and battles. Says it all really.
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