300: Rise of an Empire

Movie Review #821: ‘300’ with even more blood, more abs, more nudity, more CGI.

★★★
By Alexander Diminiano
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Action, Drama, Fantasy
Rated R (contains graphic violence, nudity, sexual content, strong language)
102 minutes

“300: Rise of an Empire” acts as more of a companion piece to “300” than as a prequel or a sequel. There’s two reasons for this. One, the movies depict separate events that are happening virtually at the same time. But more importantly, “Rise of an Empire” is stylistically the same exact movie “300” was eight years ago.

There’s a story in “Rise of an Empire”, but it doesn’t matter. Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) spends at least ten minutes providing a dramatic voiceover about the Battle of Marathon, and it’s pretty difficult to pay attention to her. Literally all we care about during these opening moments of the movie is what we’re seeing: bodybuilders sporting swords and sandals, and blood spraying everywhere in slow-motion. The movie seems to lose its story as well as its logic after the opening narration, and it doesn’t really matter. Perhaps there was some story we cared about in “300”, but this followup is ten times the big-budget glorification of blood, abs, nudity, and CGI.

Watching “Rise of an Empire” in a group of six, someone standing with their ear up against the door would’ve thought we were having our own “Rocky Horror” screening. Returning writers Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad have written a script chock-full of historical inaccuracies and cheesy dialogue. It’s translated into a movie that features a good number of errors, most notably its laughably stage-like set. The foreground stands out so clearly against the background, with the background being composed of a green screen insert that completely lacks depth perception. In a way that’s almost impressive, it’s like watching these actors stand up against a wall, only they’re standing up against a computer-generated image.

I can’t imagine that I would’ve enjoyed “Rise of an Empire” quite as much, or at all, had I watched it on my own. It’s a $110 million movie, and its guilty pleasure entertainment levels with several micro-budget cult classics from the 1950s. I’m quite shocked how well the movie fits the “so bad, it’s good” standards, in fact. In comparison, the first movie meets “Citizen Kane” standards of a masterpiece.

But the awesomest thing “300: Rise of an Empire” offered? Eva Green. She was the producers’ first choice for the role of Artemisia, and not one of them had a second choice in mind. Of course there is no substitute: she drives her role like a freaking Porsche. She slashes throats, stabs hearts, and in one particular scene, drums her fingers on her throne as she watches hell break loose around her. She enjoys a sex scene with Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton)–a rather ferocious one that left her bruised after filming it. She delivers her dialogue fiercely, resulting in a couple of memorable lines. One being “You fight much harder than you f##k.” My friends and I were hooting and hollering at that one. Though I’m sure that if I was the only one watching, I would’ve shaken my head at that line.

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9 thoughts on “300: Rise of an Empire

  1. Yeah, I knew that this film wouldn’t be as good as the first due to Snyder not directing, but if there are enough epic fight scenes, I might give it a try. Good review.

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