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300: Rise of an Empire
300: Rise of an Empire
Director: Noam Murro
Writers: Kurt Johnstad, Zack Snyder, Frank Miller
Cast: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro, Jack O'Connell, Andrew Tiernan, Igal Naor, Ben Turner, Andrew Pleavin, Ashraf Barhom, Christopher Sciueref, Steven Cree
Synopsis: Greek general Themistokles leads the charge against invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes and Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language
- Eva Green was awesome in her role as the bad a** villain manipulating things behind the scenes
- Great action choreography
- Cinematography was excellent
- Acting wasn't half bad
- Interesting story with some unique ideas
- 3-D cinematography was impressive
- Poorly written script
- Featured arguably the second stupidest sex scene in cinematic history. Second only to the sex scene in "Twilight: Breaking Dawn- Part 1"
- Too many cliches of what we've seen before in a million other war movies
- The slow motion death scenes have lost their novelty
- A violent blood bath of a film featuring hardly any story at all.
- Underdeveloped ideas, and story arcs
- Poorly written character development
- Ending was fairly cheesy
- The film contradicts one aspect of it's prequel
Time to watch guys die in slow motion baby...yay?
Finally, a movie that features graphic violence and sex! My two favorite things! Mwahahaha! Seriously, who doesn't want to see half naked guys dying in slow motion? While seeing a plethora of blood flying across the screen in glorious 3-D? Or hell, who wouldn't want to see a short sex scene that looks like a combination of fighting and sex? Oh yeah baby! Oh yeah, this is the movie I've been waiting for! Yeah! By the way, if anyone reading this is taking what I just said seriously, then I should tell you that I was being highly sarcastic. The reality is this freaking sucks for a lack of a better word.
Not only does this film stink, but all the movie happens to be is nothing more than a violent bloodbath of war epic cliches that you've seen a million times before, in such films like the original "300" and "Braveheart", to name a few. Although the original "300" was hardly a masterpiece, it was still a very good movie in it's own right. Not only was there various symbolism regarding man's right of passage in the first movie, as it offered a deep exploration into Spartan history, but it also featured some of the best action scenes ever conceived at the time. The original movie utilized slow motion to dramatize some of the fight scenes, as it was still a novelty concept at the time.
Although "300" wasn't a great film, it was still a fairly well told action film that offered a surprisingly engaging story arc. Granted, the film does tend to be a bit cheesy, but it was serviceable to say the least. Sadly, I can't say that about "300: Rise of An Empire." Granted, the film does present a lot of interesting ideas, and subplots.
However, it falls tragically on execution. Like the last movie, this film is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel that loosely follows the historical events of the Spartan and Greek armies battling the Persians. Although calling this film historically inaccurate would be a tragic understatement to say the least, the main problem with this film is how severely underdeveloped the characters are, and the overall story itself.
The story is centered around a Greek general named Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton), who leads the Greek Navy to fight against the Persians. The film starts off before the events of "300", where we see Themistokles kill Xerxes' father when the Persians tried to conquer the Greeks the last time. Needless to say, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is traumatized by this, and he soon finds himself manipulated by a young Greek girl named Artemisia (Eva Green), whom has her own vendetta against the Greeks.
I won't divulge too much into her back story, as I would hate to spoil it for my readers. However, after seeing how she's betrayed her by her own race, and finds salvation among the Persian populace, it's easy to sympathize with her character. Although the very idea of a Greek woman being the real mastermind behind the Persian armies, during that time period, is a bit absurd, but Eva Green really sells it to the audience. Not only is she very convincing in her role, but she also comes off as both sexy and intimidating at the same time. In fact, with the way her character is written, you can almost buy into the idea that a Greek woman could be the real mastermind manipulating things behind the scenes.
If anything, I almost felt sorry for Eva Green in this film, as she put up such a captivating performance that would've been more greatly appreciated if the overall film was up to par. Sadly, her efforts are in vain, as the rest of the story isn't written well. Sure, it has some interesting ideas, but it fell short on execution because the main focus of the film was heavily emphasized on violence rather than telling any kind of cohesive narrative.
The cinematography was well executed, as it still featured that shaded gritty look that the first film had going for it. Not to mention the action choreography and acting wasn't half bad either.
Sadly, this is where all the positives end for this movie. As I said before, the film starts off before the events of the first movie, and then it continues on to take place during the events of "300", where we find Themistokles leading the Greek Navy against the Persians; while making various references to the "300" throughout various parts of the story.
And, it concludes to where we finally see the remaining Spartans joining the Greek armies to fight the Persians, as it was suggested in the first movie. Take in mind, having a film take place with this kind of set up isn't bad. Heck, I'd dare even say it's a great concept to work with. I especially loved the aspect of Artemesia being the real mastermind behind the Persian empire, while Xerxes is revealed to be nothing more than a figurehead.
However, the main character, Themistokles, is tragically underdeveloped to the point that he comes off as a bland stereotype of every other movie war hero that you might've seen before. Not to mention there's hardly any chemistry between his character and Artemesia, even after they have a laughable sex scene together. Don't worry, I'll get to that later.
Without giving away too much, Themistokles tries to spare her life, and even makes a statement that he wouldn't want to live the rest of his life in chains to the Persians...even if that chain was attached to her. Although I could be reading way too much into this, but it seems like writers meant for that scene to be potent and deep; while even implying that maybe they had something of a love/hate kind of relationship with each other. Granted, I wouldn't mind something like that to happen. In fact, it's one of the reasons why I love the ongoing love story between Catwoman and Batman so much, as they too have something of a loving relationship, yet circumstances often put them on opposing sides half the time. In a sense, you can almost feel like that's what the writers were going for with Themistokles and Artemesia's relationship.
Sadly, they share relatively little screen time together, and even during the few scenes they do have together, there's really not much for the audience to go on. Not only is there little to no passion between their characters, but there's hardly any common interests for us to buy into that they could have something of a love/hate kind of relationship; hence making the final scene between them all the less dramatic.
Hell, even the sex scene was a joke between them. I honestly don't know what the writers were going for in that scene, but if you ever wondered what would happen if you combined fighting and sex together, then "300: Rise of an Empire" will definitely answer that question. Heck, it was probably the most unintentionally funniest sex scene that I've ever seen; outside of Bella losing her virginity in "Twilight: Breaking Dawn- Part 1." And to make matters worse if they wanted to give them the love/hate relationship that I was referring to, then this could've been a perfect opportunity.
For example, after they have sex, they could've easily delved into her back story at this point; while allowing Themistokles to come off as very sincere and caring individual that consoles her, as she tells her story. This would've added not only more depth to their relationship, but it also would've added more weight to their final scene together. Instead, we get to hear back story before they can meet; hence it's a wasted opportunity on the filmmaker's part.
As far as the rest of the characters, they're all tragically underdeveloped to the point that you barely even care about them. Seriously, Artemesia is the only character the audience is ever given a reason to care about, and she's the freaking antagonist in all this.
Plus, it doesn't help that the ending was beyond cheesy, and we even see the Spartan queen get in on the action, when the Spartans join the fight. Now, I'm not going to sit here, and pretend that I'm an official expert when it comes to history. But from watching the first film, it was made rather obvious that gender roles played a very big part in Spartan society. Women were the nurturers, and men were made out to be the providers and warriors. Not once was there any implication that women ever fought on the battlefield.
Yet, in "300: Rise of an Empire", not only was this continuity, from the first movie, ignored for the sake of some political feminist movement crap, but there was hardly any reason for it. Granted, you can argue the same thing about the Persian army being lead by a Greek woman, but like i said earlier, the film manages to set it up in such a way that it's believable. Add in the fact, we knew relatively little about the Persian empire in the first film, so it was easy to buy into. Plus, Eva Green's performance really sells the idea as well.
Yet when it comes to the Spartans, it's literally coming out of nowhere; hence making the film come off as fairly cheesy and a bit gimmicky, by doing this. Don't get me wrong, I'm a very strong supporter of women's rights in general. In fact, I often side with a lot of women that'll openly complain about unfair treatment in the workplace, or even how it's unfair that a girl gets paid less than a man whenever they do the same job. In fact, I consider women to be the smarter ones between the genders if you want me to be honest.
However, when it comes to sequels (or whatever the hell "300: Rise of an Empire" is considered), I firmly believe continuity should be the first and foremost priority; outside of telling a great story of course. Meaning if you establish strong gender roles in a society that you're film is based upon, then you need to stick with that even during a freaking sequel. Otherwise, why even bring that up at all in the first film? It just comes off as very gimmicky, and a bit contrived.
As far as the slow motion effects go, they lost their novelty at this point. Although it's hardly this film's fault, but the reality is since :"The Matrix" trilogy made the slow motion action scenes infamous, it seems like Hollywood has run that novelty into the ground to where it's no longer impressive anymore. If anything, it ranges most of the time from being either extremely annoying, or just coming off as an unimpressive cliche.
Overall, if you're just looking for a violent movie that features a lot of blood and gore, with little emphasis on story, then you might like this movie okay. However, if you're going to expect anything deeper than that, then you'll be severely disappointed.