300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

300-Rise-of-an-Empire-Poster-slice-585x310Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Andrew Tiernan, Andrew Pleavin, Hans Matheson, Jack O’Connell

Directed by: Noam Murro

R. 103 mins

High on artificial thrills and low on character, this new chapter in the epic 300 saga doesn’t offer anything new and as a result, may only appeal to die-hard fans of the ultraviolet franchise. Based on Frank Miller’s latest graphic novel (Xerxes) and told in the same visual style of the blockbuster 300, this new chapter takes the action to the sea as Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. Pitting Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Artemisia (Eva Green), vengeful commander of the Persian navy, the film dazzles with incessant fight sequences, lulling the audience into forgetting that there really isn’t much going on outside of the ritual bloodshed and campy, hyperbolic acting that we’ve come to expect. With an enormous budget and high production, the film feels much like a video game and while it’s visual elements are impressive, the novelty has worn thin after the first instalment. Gallons of CGI blood is shed, in slow motion, and ultimately the 3D experience is all too much.

Perhaps the one saving grace is Eva Green’s bizarro performance as the sexy, yet totally frightening naval commander who incites fear in the bravest of men with her steely-focus and vengeful spirit. In real life, Artemisia was nothing like her character here, but – as we’ve already seen in 300 – historical accuracy takes a backseat in favour of over-the-top characterization. Unfortunately, Artemisia is just about the only unique element in this forgettable paint-by-numbers exercise that remains curiously tiresome, despite the endless carnage. Thoughtless and excessively violent, 300: Rise of an Empire lacks the sense of heroism that made it’s predecessor deserving of our attention.




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