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Friday, March 7, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: 300: Rise of an Empire

THERE were 300 very pretty guys with abs to die for, they fought a battle, and they all died horribly, but oh so honourably. That was the first movie, which actually had its shaky basis in historical fact.
Now we get a sequel which theoretically tells the other side of the battle – because, while Leonidas and his Spartans held the hot gates, the Greeks were holding the Persian navy at bay at the Straits of Artemisium.We get fighter-turned-politician Themistokles (Stapleton) pleading with the Spartans to fight with the other Greek nations, but then having to hold off the Persian hordes with the help of some farmers and artisans.Tomes have been written about the strategies applied in both battles, but what you are going to get from this sequel is slow-motion blood spray, guys impaled on spears, and actually some pretty stupid moves.What kind of soldier on the battlefield throws his sword at an enemy with no other weapon at hand? The kind who poses for a shot – that’s who.
Do not expect realism, grit or even a touch of cool. This is swords and sandals sadism of the computer-generated kind. Yes, these actors went through a hectic boot camp to get their six-packs as defined as possible, but that is where realism ends and the money-grubbing bean-counters take over.
The film is aimed at 15-year-old boys with money to burn – who theoretically aren’t even allowed to watch it, but will find a way – who do not have the patience to actually read a Frank Miller graphic novel (he didn’t write the basis for this film, though, funnily enough).
The film may be in the fantasy action-adventure genre, but there is nothing fantastic or adventurous about it. And the action is ridiculously boring. It is basically the same shot over and over: let’s stick a sword in this guy and rip it out so the blood can spray. Oooooh, let’s do it again. In 3D. Except there is absolutely no depth or an awareness of dimensionality to what you are seeing. Everything is so smoothed out.
On the plus side, Eva Green’s got the coolest costumes, and she gets to kill lots of people with abandon. Stalking across the battlefield like a scenery-chewing precursor to Boudicca, she’s actually Queen Artemisia, the Persians’ foremost naval general. She totally kills every role she has ever been offered as the damsel in distress, but it’s not her film.
It is some more of the visual styling of the first film, with less of a theme. Theoretically, according to Themistokles’s stirring speeches, the theme should be democracy, but that just gets lost in yet more cornstarch.
300: Rise of an Empire
DIRECTOR: Noam Murro
CAST: Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro, David Wenham, Andrew Tiernan, Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, Jack O'Connell
RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes

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