300: Rise of an Empire is the sequel to Zack Snyder's 300. Snyder's film chronicles Sparta's legendary King Leonidas and his 300 men. They held off the mighty Persian army at a narrow Greek pass in 480 B.C.
His 2006 flick is one of many at that point in time rewriting the special effects book. The film combined animation and live action with a graphic novel, comic book look and feel. Since then, dozens of movies have successfully used those techniques.
300: Rise of an Empire is set at the same time Leonidas and his men took on the Persians. It follows Athenian General Themistokles battling with the Persians at sea. He's played by Animal Kingdom's Sullivan Stapleton and his nemeses are the god-man ruler Xerxes and his fleet leader Artemisia. Like most of the movie's characters, both are real people.
She actually commanded a few ships in a navel battle against the Greeks.
The most beautiful Eva Green (Casino Royale) plays Artemisia. 300: Rise of an Empire gives her more power than the real woman. She and her hundreds of ships take on Themistokles and his few. He wins one, she wins one, one is up, the other down and on it goes until all is done.
Snyder and his 300 co-writer Kurt Johnstad pen this history-stretching sequel and turned directing duties over to Noam Murro (Smart People). There are no surprises here. Murro's film looks exactly like Snyder's. All battles are effects-intensive, and this time you have the option of seeing all the blood, gore and bare chests and breasts in glorious 3-D.
Here's the formula: Soldiers in battle swing their swords in fast motion. Just before contact, in kicks the slow motion. You see the slash and the blood and guts in almost stop-time. When everything is out and you've done your mental oohs and ahs, it's time to move on to the next victim. At that point, action returns to normal speed.
Repeat. Then repeat again and again until the battle is over. The sequences where ships ram each other are the same way.
When a fighting sequence is finished, the really boring, horribly acted plot drags the movie out until the next action sequence. The film's only positive is Murro having moxie enough to not make you wait too long between blood baths.
Director: Noam Murro
Stars: Eva Green, Sullivan Stapleton, Lena Headey, David Wenham
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated R for graphic violence, nudity and sex. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.
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