News

REVIEW: ‘300: Rise of an Empire’

REVIEW: ‘300: Rise of an Empire’

Sullivan Stepleton stars as Themistokles in "300: Rise of an Empire." Photo: Associated Press/Warner Bros. Pictures

Genre: Action, Drama, War | Run Time: 102 min | Rated: R
Director: Noam Murro | Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey

By: George Wolf

Back in 2006, director Zach Snyder paired a Frank Miller graphic novel with a mostly naked, very beefy Gerard Butler, and ancient Greek history was born. The visually arresting 300 was a stylistic breakthrough, if nothing else. Eight years later, though, it’s tough to understand the point of a sequel.

And yet, 300: Rise of an Empire picks up where 300 left off. It’s less a sequel or a prequel and more of a …meanwhile. That is to say that, while Leonidas (Butler) and his 300 Spartans battle Persian god-king Xerxes on the ground (the previous film’s climax), Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and the rest of Greece takes on Xerxes’s navy, led by the angry Grecian ex-pat Artemisia (Eva Green).

Gone is the painterly quality of the original, an artistic choice that often pays off as it gives the sea battles a little more life. Don’t look for authenticity or gritty realism here, though; the sequel is very definitely cut from the same CGI-laden cloth as Snyder’s epic, but director Noam Murro (Smart People) makes some stylistic alterations here and there.

The sequel is bloodier and rape-ier than its original, all the lurid detail captured in vivid splatter-cam glory. There’s far less exposition and nearly no character development this time around. Murro’s plan of attack seemed to be action sequence followed by rousing speech followed by action sequence overdubbed with rousing speech, and so on.

Given the sheer volume of action (and speechifying), it’s surprising the film becomes so tedious so quickly. To enjoy the full 102 minutes, you might need to have a real itch to see beefcake in battle. (No to shirts, yes to capes in the military uniform? Really?). That is, except for the ferocious presence of Eva Green.

Playing the bloodthirsty naval commander with a grudge against Greece, Green steals every scene and commands rapt attention. She delivers more badass per square inch than the entire Greek and Persian navy combined in a performance that entertains, but also exposes the blandness of the balance of the cast. Even without their shirts.

It’s not the worst waste of time onscreen right now, thanks to Green, but it’s nothing you’ll remember tomorrow, either.

Verdict-2-5-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Billboard suggests Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs in the line of fire for ‘Rush Hour 4′

puffdaddy

Is this a prank or is Puff Daddy replacing Chris Tucker in the fourth installment of the franchise?

in Music

Mumford & Sons: No cell phones allowed

mumford

The British folk band has banned phones from a concert on Monday amid fears fans will record and leak their new material.

in Music

This week’s top pop songs

markronson

LISTEN: This week's top pop songs, according to the latest Billboard chart.

in Entertainment

Coming soon to Netflix

Netflix

This is the last weekend to binge on these shows and movies. Get a sneak peak at what's leaving Netflix and what will be new in May.

in Entertainment

David Letterman gets star-studded send-off

letterman

CBS is giving him 90 minutes of prime-time real estate for a tribute show.