Flatline – A review of 300: Rise of an Empire
Title: 300: Rise of an Empire
Production Company: Warner Brothers
Run Time: 102 minutes
Director: Noam Murro
Stars: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro
Summary: It’s tough crafting a sequel from a franchise where the main characters were all killed in the first film. So this isn’t so much a sequel as it is a parallel story. But it lacks the heart of the original film.
Movies based on graphic novels are generally not your average cinematic tale. They’re not necessarily historically accurate nor are they likely to attract the cream of the acting crop when brought to life for the big screen.
300 cast a relatively unknown Gerard Butler and turned him, overnight, into a household name. I’m not sure Sullivan Stapleton will achieve the same level of success with this sequel.
But to call 300: Rise of an Empire a sequel would actually be a misnomer. The events in this story run parallel to the events in the original movie.
The Greeks run afoul of the Persian empire and, in the original story, a band of 300 Spartans manage to hold off the entire Persian Army while Greece readies herself for the war.
The Greek navy, headed by Themistokles (Stapleton) is badly outnumbered by the Persian forces led by Artemisia (Eva Green). She’s hell bent on destroying Themistokles since he shot Persian King Darius with an arrow on the last day of battle in events leading up to the present movie.
Okay, so now we have an entire cast all seeking vengeance from everyone else. To put it mildly, this is a movie with fifteen minutes of plot mired in two hours of visually effective battle and stylized blood spatter.
Throw in a torrid sex scene involving two characters who hate each other and you’ve got a marriage. But I digress.
Anyone who goes to this movie expecting anything more than what it is will be deluding themselves. Is it entertaining? If you think that two hours worth of bloodletting that doesn’t involve hockey masks or the supernatural is entertaining, then yes.
I prefer my battle movies, though, to have a little more resonating plot. In the strictest cartoon sense, we know that Themistokles is out to avenge the murder of Leonides, but at the same time, we can feel the animosity that exists between him and the reigning queen of the Spartans Gorgo (Lena Headey) who refused to join forces with the Greeks despite the overwhelming odds that her husband would face.
Even though Butler, who makes brief flashback appearances throughout the movie, could have been a part of the action, I suspect he saw the writing (in blood, of course) on the wall and walked away while the getting was good. Smart move.
I will not be surprised, though, if yet another sequel is in the works for future audience consumption. Hollywood never lets a bad idea die.
It’s interesting to note that we had to wait nearly eight years for this sequel. Another eight would not have fixed the flaws. This would still be an ultraviolent wannabe epic that would continually fall short of its intended target.
This is okay for Saturday afternoon to waste away a day at the movies, but if I want to sink my teeth into a truly satisfying period piece where powerfully built half-naked men bash themselves back into the stone age, give me Gladiator or Spatacus.
Or any of 300 better done historical battle epics. I give 300: Rise of an Empire 2-1/2 out of 5 stars.