UK Release Date: 7th March 2014
Runtime: 102 minutes
Director: Noam Murro
Writer: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad
Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro, Jack O’Connell
Synopsis: A Greek general leads an ambitious offensive manoeuvre against the godlike King Xerxes and his fearsome naval commander.
Outside of catchphrase-spouting internet memes, Zack Snyder’s CGI war movie 300 was a bit of a damp squib. There was some campy charm to it, but it was mostly just boring. It did blindingly well, so a sequel was inevitable. Predictably, 300: Rise of an Empire is louder, bloodier, stupider and really bad.
Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) is a badass Athenian general. After he slaughters a Persian king in battle, his son Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) becomes the God King and declares war on Greece with the help of his naval commander Artemisia (Eva Green). When Queen Gorgo of Sparta (Lena Headey) refuses to help Themistocles, he chooses to attack alone.
The first problem with 300: Rise of an Empire is that it quite simply doesn’t need to exist. There wasn’t enough story in the first 300 movie to sustain its two hour runtime, and there’s even less on show here.
| “Better we show them we chose to die on our feet, rather than live on our knees.”
It follows a similar formula of loosely linked battle scenes with boring interludes of men growling at each other in between. But this time, instead of the hammy fun of Gerard Butler, the charisma vacuum of Sullivan Stapleton steps into the central role. His performance is reminiscent of Sam Worthington’s charmless turn in the Clash of the Titans remake.
However, 300: Rise of an Empire has a secret weapon that the first film doesn’t have: Eva Green. She quite brilliantly chews scenery like the best of them as the badass associate of King Xerxes. She gets all of the film’s fun lines and engages in one of the weirdest screen sex scenes ever with Stapleton. Without her, this would be a candidate for worst film of the year.
The gore quotient has been increased in this sequel as well, with every kill now accompanied by slow motion arterial spray that splatters liberally onto the camera lens. This is passably entertaining for the first few fight scenes, but eventually it becomes a tiresome distraction that resembles a cheap video game.
| “You fight much harder than you fuck.”
300: Rise of an Empire is an absolute mess of a movie, with no plot worthy of discussion and a roster of hopelessly bland characters. It also doesn’t so much climax as stop just as things are starting to look interesting, which merely amplifies the disappointment.
Pop or Poop?
Despites its visual flair and an ass-kicking Eva Green performance, 300: Rise of an Empire is an enormous disappointment of a movie that never quite manages to put its money where its sword is.
With charisma-free characters on show all over the place, the film emerges as something that’s less swords and sandals and more forks and flip flops.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.