Tuesday, 25 March 2014

300: The Rise of an Empire - SPOILER ALERT: Carnage, valiant speeches, breasts, rampant sex and blood, which is thrown on the screen for unneeded impact


The excessive hype of the release of 300: The Rise of an Empire last week was unnecessary given the recognition of the first 300 movie in 2006. Zack Synder's original movie combined Greek mythology, 480 B.C history, Frank Miller's comic illustrations and 21st century green-screen special effects which was an epic success. It also received attention from Men's Health magazine readers for obvious reasons - muscles, abs and a lot of it.

 (Synder's 2006 movie - 300 with Gerald Butler)


However, this sequel is a visually hazy movie that blurs faces and illuminates its backdrop scenery by its special effect bravado which is slightly off putting. Throughout the movie there are tiny dots that look like gold dust or fluffs of barley that distract viewers from the actual goings on in the scene. Perhaps the audience is meant to be reminded that this movie is set in an quasi imaginary time and place, and is relentlessly unreal. But doesn't this negates the purpose of sfx in the first place? 


Another disappointment is that viewers won't get the shredded abs and muscular gloss and shine achieved in the first movie. There is no replacement for the hunky Gerald Butler or Michael Fassbender to please our eyes but there are some hard Athenian torsos that may make some slup or raise an brow or two. Our main hero Themistocles, casted by Sullivan Stapleton who is actually from Australia plays a strong and charismatic leader that sadly doesn't have the same testosterone fueled Scottish command as Leonidas (Butler.) Stapleton is his own leader and despite not being within the same league as the mighty Spartan King, he comes across most convincing in the second half of the film after butchering hundreds of Persians and cutting a captain's head in two just like a water melon.

 (Stapleton as Themistocles)


The real tables have turned in this film as it is Artemisia (Eva Green,) who is famous for her Bond girl title in Casino Royale, that is the object of causation for the entire 300 saga who supposedly manipulated the golden jewellery King, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) in the first place. She encouraged him to storm and conquer the world and rid it of anything and anyone unwilling to submit to Persia and his cheesy "divine and unpenetrable power" The film portrays Artemisia's sword fighting and cut throat action in the Persian crusade and more importantly, her sex, her sexiness and domineering le femme warrior attributes. Her goth-like stoicism for war and fetish fabulous couture is somewhat attractive not forgetting her breasts too which the director, Noam Murro, notably magnified to impress a frustrated audience.

                                                                 (Eva Green is Artemisia)


 Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro)


Much like the first, there is a lot of killing, dead bodies, valiant speeches that echo  Mel Gibson's epic speech in 'BraveHeart', rampant sex, swearing and blood, which is thicker and thrown on the screen for unneeded impact. The movie acts a tiny bit as a prequel and only goes as far as Leonidas' and his 300 spartas martydon so it's not much of a sequel to talk about. Yet his spartan queen (Lena Headey) is back and plays a loyal and confidant wife just as influential as the first movie.

 (Athenians in action)


Like any sequel, this film does not live up to the critical acclaim as the first but what is most worrying is that it does not even match the graft or filmography employed in the 2006 epic. The spartans were tenacious, die hard warriors, ready to sacrifice their lives in spartan style, while these Greeks depicted here were average humans trying to triumph. It is a great disappointment for the audience that got so much the first time round to see hardly any resemblance in the second. Even the Immortals with their oriental silver masks appeared somewhat afraid and unsure of their dwindling abilities in this film. This isn't the gun-ho movie you were expected I am afraid. I suggest you save your cash and wait for the DVD version if you can.