300: Rise of an Empire: Movie Review
Cast: Eva Green, Lena Headey, Sullivan Stapleton, Flashes of Gerard Butler, Rodrigo Santoro
Director: Noam Murro
This! Is! Sparta! (Again)
It's one of the iconic phrases from cinema over the past decade - and instantly calls to mind a six-packed Gerard Butler unleashing all kinds of hell in the 2007 movie, 300.
So it was inevitable that a sequel would make its way to the movies - and here is said sequel.
Starring Sullivan Stapleton as Greek general Themistokles, it's the story of the charge against the invading Persian forces as the Greeks try to unite and stop demi-god Xerxes (Santoro) and Artemisia (Eva Green) the leader of the Persian navy.
And that's about it for plot...
During the hyper-stylised fighting, each slash unleashes a volcano of blood splatters as hordes of buffed up men shout on the battle fields - but it proffers up nothing more than an empty vessel, lacking in the kind of iconic moments the first film had.
Part of the problem with 300: Rise of an Empire is due to the writing of Themistokles - delivering serious speeches about turning young men into memories before trying to stir the troops into action once again doesn't provide a well-sketched out hero and certainly doesn't go anywhere near making him into the icon that Gerard Butler's Leonidas became. Stapleton tries as best as he can in amid his earnestness but he pales on the screen in comparison to the original Scot's presence.
Likewise, while Eva Green's Artemisia borders on the pantomime dame, she still manages more of a screen presence as her cold-hearted bitch sneers and eviscerates her way through hordes of Greeks. A powerplay sex scene is so over the top that it's more laughable than erotic and is deeply suited to the graphic novel pages and genre than on the big screen. Headey barely registers as Queen Gorgo, serving to deliver portentous pompous narrative that has no hint of self-parody in among the ludicrous seriousness of it all.
Similarly, director Murro's over-reliance on slow mo shots becomes tiring and uninspired as the soulless swords and sandals wannabe epic carries on. Granted, a few of the scenes really bring the epic and use the green screen to brutally magnificent life - a scene of Xerxes towering over his army is breathless with scale - but there's never really a moment in among the action that screens originality in among the never-ending battle scenes.
300: Rise Of An Empire may satiate those teen boys with a blood lust, but there's nothing to engage with among the big screen carnage - and there's certainly nothing to match the influence that 300 exerted over the cinematic world.