Sunday, March 9, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire –review

300: Rise of an Empire is a follow-up film to the movie 300.  It takes place during events surrounding the previous film but follows the Athenians at the Battle of Salamis. The effects are over-the-top and slow motion is used in excess.  There is not a lot to make this movie stand out as original because it’s roughly the same plot we have seen before in 300. This time however, we are treated to sea battles.

As Queen Gorgo, played by Lena Headey, tells Spartan troops of the tale that unfolds, we learn that King Xerxes became a god-king with the help of Artemisia, played by Eva Green.  Themistocles, played by Sullivan Stapleton, leads a force of the Athenian navy against the Persian fleet.  He hopes to one day unite Greece together so they may fight against these terrible odds as one mighty force. Themistocles must withstand attack after attack of the Persian force’s heavy numbers using only his wits and the landscape to defeat his foes.

300: Rise of an Empire has a big problem- it brings nothing new to the table. The plot is almost a copy of the first film but with sea battles. They use footage from 300 to add a connection to the previous film, which seems, at times, like a sneaky ploy to show Gerard Butler and Michael Fassbender in this weak sequel.  The effects are dated and look like they belong in the original film from about eight years ago. For some reason the slow motion effect was used for damn near every movement made. I am pretty sure this movie would have been 30 minutes long had it not been filmed in so many slow motion shots.

Speaking of 8 years ago, it seems foolish to add Queen Gorgo’s character since her events in these films are supposed to take place at the same time as the last film; as lovely as Lena Headey is, she has aged noticeably in eight years. Eva Green is fun to watch as Artemisia. She is over-the-top and seems to be enjoying herself in the roll.  Her fun villain character is cartoonish at times, wearing a subtle, wry smile while slowly killing men in battle with a bow.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: A Greek leader known for his skills in battle leads his men up against overwhelming odds. The odds in this case are the Persians, and they have a leader that throws every trick in the book at the other leader. This being an attempt to have the Greek leader serve the Persian leader and the Greek leader refuses to do. The Greeks lose a lot of people but gain victory through their loss by uniting Greece against the Persians. If this sounds familiar to you, it should. It was the plot to 300 and to 300:Rise of an Empire.

This sequel feels eight years too late.  I guess if you really enjoyed 300 I’d say it’s worth a rental. Please remember you’ve seen it already and it feels like a very obvious attempt to milk the franchise for all its worth. There are action scenes that are interesting and fun but they don’t carry the film, and each one is not unique. It suffers the biggest crime a movie can commit by being dull.

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