‘300’ Spin-off Should Have Risen Higher
March 18, 2014
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Director Noam Murro’s “300: Rise of an Empire” is a tenacious bloodbath along with visuals that are fruitful and vividly entertaining, but not very promising. Greek warriors show off their courage and gallantry in a fight for a glorified nation against Persian forces in this action-packed fantasy war film.
Inspired by Frank Miller’s latest — and soon to be published — graphic novel, “Xerxes,” “300: Rise of an Empire” tells the tale of an Athenian general, Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton), who will stop at nothing to defeat opposing Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and Greek slave-turned-Persian warrior Artemisia (Eva Green) in an attempt to unite Greece.
It has been seven years since its successful predecessor, “300” (directed by Zack Snyder) was released. The saga continues as the ongoing bloody war between Persia and Greece sets sail for a fresh battle on the Aegean Sea.
Composed of cliché movie quotes, British accents, and passionate Greeks showing off their chiseled abs — wearing no more than underwear and a large cape — the film is a classic fantasy.
In the land of blood, sweat, and tears, enemies are slashed and slaughtered in stylish gore. The bloodshed is rather bloodier than in the first film and the slow motion effects amidst over-the-top battle scenes are abundant as ever.
The film uses voice-over narration by Queen Gondo (Lena Headey). She begins by telling the story of how Xerxes emerged as the ‘God-King’ after his father, King Darius I, gets killed during a battle. “Only the gods can defeat the Greeks,” said Artemesia. Confident with his transformation, Xerxes declares war on Greece. King Leonidas of Sparta (Gerard Butler) rallies 300 of his bravest soldiers to fight back. Along with King Leonidas’ heroic defeat, General Themistokles endeavors to save Greece once and for all.
The film is not entirely a sequel or a prequel. It is, according to the filmmakers, a story that is told within the architecture of the first film. As a result, viewers are likely to be confused. The film is intended to fill in many of the gaps before, after, and simultaneously surrounding Greece’s warriors’ with the Persian Empire.
As predictable as it is, the muted colors can puzzle the viewer as to what is happening on the battleships. And it seems that the soldiers only like going into combat in the dark. The battles are short and difficult to follow.
The film is an empty rinse-and-repeat replica of “300” and one reason for that is because Gerard Butler is absent. Despite its flamboyance, the artistic visuals of “300: Rise of an Empire” are not as celebratory as in the first film.
One good reason to partially praise this film is Eva Green’s electrifying performance as the Persian naval commander, Artemesia. Greek by blood, she parted with the Persians as a result of a rough childhood during which she was enslaved by Spartans. Persian by heart, she seeks to avenge her former country. Her aura of valiance and femme fatale allure saves the film from what could have been a lost cause.
“300: Rise of an Empire” is R-rated and runs for 103 minutes.
3 out of 5 Stars