So I just got back from the midnight release of 300:Rise of an Empire and I was utterly disappointed. And my expectations weren’t that high. I didn’t think this movie would be a dramatic tour de force, but I was hopeful that I would again see the beautiful special effects and spectacular fight scenes of the first. And I did, ad nauseum.
The movie opens with Lena Headey narrating for about 20 minutes over slow mo battles and millions of gallons of bad CGI blood. She continues narrating throughout the movie, rehashing the narration from the original. Fun Fact, David Wenham and Lena Headey are the only two back from the original, even though the two movies happen simultaneously. Gerard Butler’s cameo price must have been out of budget. Back on track.
It turns out there is this guy Themistokles who became the hero of the battle of Marathon by putting an arrow through King Darius’ heart. But his big mistake was not putting one through Prince Xerxes. Had he done that, this whole war and these two movies would have been avoided. Since he did not, Xerxes takes Darius home where he dies when his most trusted military commander, Artemisia, whom he loves like a daughter pulls the arrow out of his heart. Kind of shitty if you ask me, but I still don’t understand how he made the month long trek back to the capital with an arrow in his chest. Darius’ dying words to Xerxes were essentially, don’t fuck with the Greeks it would take a God to defeat them. At this point Xerxes goes into whiny bitch mode and curls up in a corner crying for a week.
Artemisia interprets this a different way, she sees it as a challenge for Xerxes to become a god. So they wrap him in gauze, anoint him with special oil, and send him off into the desert to have a vision quest. On which, he comes across a cave of hermits, because those existed in ancient Persia. It is in this cave that he gives his soul to some dark forces in order to become the GodKing. Symbolized by him descending into a pool of molten gold and emerging hairless, uber pierced, and clad in iron underpants. He declares that they will go to war with Greece to avenge his father, while Artemisia mouths the words as he says them. Insinuating that she’s controlling him. WInk wink.
Meanwhile, back in Greece Thermistokles is traveling around trying to get a navy together by begging all the city/states for their ships. Which a lot of them agree to, except Sparta. Because, Fuck you this is Sparta! When he gets what navy he can together he gathers them at the northern coast to await Artemisia and the Persian navy. Did I mention this is mostly a naval battle movie. I mean it’s ancient naval combat, so basically ships running right into each other and the crews fighting it out. There is Greek Fire, but it’s being used by the Persians and the Greeks seem very confused by it. But before we even get to that is one of the weirdest sex scenes I’ve ever seen.
Artemisia sends for Thermistokles to try and sway him to her side using her feminine wiles. Which leads to a weird sex-fight/negotiation. Which is made all the stranger by having Artemisia’s back story told immediately beforehand. Which is that she watched her whole family raped and murdered by Greek soldiers during some inter city/state conflict when she was very young, the actress looked like a tween. After the battle she was promptly made a sex slave on some ship, still a tween mind you, and then when they are done with her they just leave her in a street. She’s found by a Persian emissary who takes pity on her and raises her to be a super killer blah blah blah. Is there a more stereotypical female super villain back story?
So they show you all this terrible child sex slavery shit, then have her try to seduce, and have very rough sex with Thermistokles. I thought it was bad timing personally. But, I will say, Eva Green has phenomenal breasts. They are perfectly round, perky, and on screen for quite a while. The 5 minutes leading up to them coming out was the most suspenseful part of the whole movie. Don’t worry ladies, like the first one, there is a plethora of half naked ridiculously chiseled dudes onscreen the whole movie. I don’t want to hear shit about sexism.
The movie’s main source of suspense is whether or not the Spartan navy will show up to the final battle with the Persian navy. Which they completely fucking ruin in the opening when they show Queen Gorgo, Lena Headey, standing on a fucking boat, in battle armor, surrounded by fucking soldiers. And I guess this is a compliment to Lena Headey, but because she is so fucking good at being evil on Game of Thrones I can’t bring myself to root for her. I want her to die in everything she does. All I could think about at the end when the Spartans show up like the cavalry and she leads the troops storming the main ship was, KILL THAT BROTHERFUCKIN CUNT!!! SHE DOESN’T HAVE A SHIELD!!!! KILL HER!!!! So I guess that is a testament to her fantastic acting ability.
I don’t want to be too negative about this movie, the CGI was fantastic. I saw it in IMAX 3D and I thought they made use of the medium well. There are little embers constantly floating around, which did get distracting, but looked really cool for a while. There is a cool scene with a bunch of wrecked ships and men floating down into the depths that made use of 3D really well.
If I had to use one word to describe this movie it would be excessive. The millions of gallons of bad CGI blood was excessive. The 60 minutes of slow mo shots was excessive, not exaggerating. I didn’t have a stop watch, but every other fucking scene was slow mo. The use of the same lines of dialog in narration was excessive. I understand they were going for something like a haunting prophesy with it, but that didn’t work out for them. The 30 minutes of narrated scenes was excessive and lazy. No joke either 30 minutes, maybe 45. There were at least 20 straight minutes of narration in the beginning, and whenever back story needed to be told it was done through narration. This is just lazy storytelling.
Bottom line, if you want to see a movie that looks cool this is your film. If it hadn’t been for the fantastic CGI work I would have been easily convinced I was watching the Asylum ripoff of 300. If you want to see an orgy of bad CGI blood, half naked men stabbing each other(not a gay joke at all), and listen to Lena Headey narrate a movie then go see this movie. Preferably in IMAX 3D, because that was what it was designed for.
I was prepared to give this movie 3/10 stars just on the CGI work alone. Except the blood, man is it shitty fake blood. It’s the wrong color, shimmers too much, and there is a lot of it. The practical effects blood looked great. But I’m going to bump the rating up to 5/10 because of Eva Green’s wonderfully voluptuous rack.
All I have to say about the male leads is; Sullivan Stapleton is no Gerard Butler and Hans Matheson is no Michael Fassbender, but they try their hardest.
Cinema Sins is going to have a field day with this one.