300: Rise of an Empire (Legendary Pictures)
Rated R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language.
Starring Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro, Jack O'Connell, Andrew Tiernan, Igal Naor, Andrew Pleavin, Ben Turner, Ashraf Barhom, Christopher Sciueref.
Written by Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller.
Directed by Noam Murro.
Remember that “abs” movie? I’m referring to 2006's 300, Zack Snyder’s film adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel about Leonidas’ band of three-hundred soldiers who held off legions of Persian solders way, way back in 480 B.C. You know, the movie of the guys with the washboard abdominal muscles who yelled a lot and slaughtered a bunch of guys in slow-motion. Well, 300 made a bunch of money, so by Hollywood law, the producers are required to make a sequel, even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense to further the story of the (spoiler alert) doomed Battle of Thermopylae. That’s why we get 300: Rise of an Empire in theaters this weekend (another spoiler: you’ll probably get a better history lesson from Mr. Peabody and Sherman at the multiplex).
300: Rise of and Empire (300ROAE) is set right in the middle of the Thermopylae affair, with the forgone conclusion that Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his brave band of 300 have died a good death at the hands of the “god-king” Xerxes’ (Rodrigo Santoro) army, thus inspiring the city-states of Greece to join forces and thwart the Persian horde. The man in charge of military is Themistokles, (Sullivan Stapleton) a man who years prior killed Xerxes’ father with one heck of a lucky arrow shot during the battle of Marathon. Themistokles must convince the Athenians and Leonidas’ widow Queen Gorgo (Lena Heady) to provide him with an army and navy to have any chance against the Persians.
In a flashback/back story, we are entreated to the tale of how Xerxes came to power with the help of the ruthless Artemisia (Eva Green), a mean woman who delights in beheading guys on a whim.
Rather than divulge too much of the complicated and boring plot, suffice to say there are a series of naval battles and encounters between Artemisia and Themistokles (one very sexual), interspersed with various speeches about freedom, honor and citizenship – also interspersed with a lot of blood spilt in slow-motion.
If you liked Zack Snyder’s 300, like me, 300ROAE will be a disappointment. It’s gratuitous to a fault, and doesn’t offer any new truths that the first film didn’t cover. Alright, I get it…freedom is worth fighting for, but you can get that message across without giving the same basic speech, over and over again. I also don’t think there’s any new and improved way to show the guts of Persians and Greeks being splattered in slo-mo, either. Speaking of all that sepia-toned blood, it would seem that these ancient soldiers were comprised of nothing more that walking bags of red goo, since every time a sword touches them, they explode in crimson glory.
The slo-mo also gets old, and it’s possible that only 10 minutes of action was used and slowed down into an hour and 42-minute movie.
So, if you like a lot of gore, oily abs and slo-motion, 300ROAE is for you. Otherwise, the movie will come across as very long ancient Greek military recruiting commercial, with a lot of blood.
Did I mention the blood?