News

REVIEW: ‘300: Rise of an Empire’

REVIEW: ‘300: Rise of an Empire’

Sullivan Stepleton stars as Themistokles in "300: Rise of an Empire." Photo: Associated Press/Warner Bros. Pictures

Genre: Action, Drama, War | Run Time: 102 min | Rated: R
Director: Noam Murro | Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey

By: George Wolf

Back in 2006, director Zach Snyder paired a Frank Miller graphic novel with a mostly naked, very beefy Gerard Butler, and ancient Greek history was born. The visually arresting 300 was a stylistic breakthrough, if nothing else. Eight years later, though, it’s tough to understand the point of a sequel.

And yet, 300: Rise of an Empire picks up where 300 left off. It’s less a sequel or a prequel and more of a …meanwhile. That is to say that, while Leonidas (Butler) and his 300 Spartans battle Persian god-king Xerxes on the ground (the previous film’s climax), Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and the rest of Greece takes on Xerxes’s navy, led by the angry Grecian ex-pat Artemisia (Eva Green).

Gone is the painterly quality of the original, an artistic choice that often pays off as it gives the sea battles a little more life. Don’t look for authenticity or gritty realism here, though; the sequel is very definitely cut from the same CGI-laden cloth as Snyder’s epic, but director Noam Murro (Smart People) makes some stylistic alterations here and there.

The sequel is bloodier and rape-ier than its original, all the lurid detail captured in vivid splatter-cam glory. There’s far less exposition and nearly no character development this time around. Murro’s plan of attack seemed to be action sequence followed by rousing speech followed by action sequence overdubbed with rousing speech, and so on.

Given the sheer volume of action (and speechifying), it’s surprising the film becomes so tedious so quickly. To enjoy the full 102 minutes, you might need to have a real itch to see beefcake in battle. (No to shirts, yes to capes in the military uniform? Really?). That is, except for the ferocious presence of Eva Green.

Playing the bloodthirsty naval commander with a grudge against Greece, Green steals every scene and commands rapt attention. She delivers more badass per square inch than the entire Greek and Persian navy combined in a performance that entertains, but also exposes the blandness of the balance of the cast. Even without their shirts.

It’s not the worst waste of time onscreen right now, thanks to Green, but it’s nothing you’ll remember tomorrow, either.

Verdict-2-5-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recently Played

Latest Headlines

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Sept. 15

lone

A look back on the Hollywood headlines that made history.

in Entertainment

This weekend’s celebrity birthdays

bisset

See who will be blowing out the candles on birthday cake this weekend.

in Entertainment

COUNTDOWN: Fall movie preview

This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Ben Affleck in a scene from "Gone Girl." The film will make its world premiere as the opening night film at the 52nd New York Film Festival. The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced Thursday, July 17, 2014, that the highly anticipated adaption of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel will kick off the festival on September 26. The 20th Century Fox thriller, which stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, will premiere in theaters shortly after on October 3.

Here are the 10 movies we are most excited to spend time with between now and the holidays.

in Viral Videos

‘Unqualified advice’ with ‘Parks & Rec’ star Nick Offerman

15-overlay1

The actor gives everyday people advice on their most-pressing problems.

in Music

Producer profiled in ‘Jersey Boys’ dead at 82

bobcrewe

Crewe helped write and produce hits for acts including The Four Seasons, Patti LaBelle, and Michael Jackson.