I can’t say 300: Rise of an Empire is a bad movie, because it’s not — if you acknowledge that it’s a stereotypical blockbuster Hollywood sequel, that is.
Cheesy punchlines, recycled elements from the original 300, and overused 3D CGI are all in full effect, of course, but we’ll get into that later. First, the Deacon E will appease the Gods with an offering of peace: The battle scenes are absolutely epic. Noam Murro (Smart People) and his team do a great job at displaying the craftiness and creativity of the Greek navy. I applaud the fight coordinators for being creative and not using the cliché Downward Shoulder Stab move that I first saw in Troy and have seen in everything set in that time period since then. Thing is, besides the fights and battles, there’s really nothing else. 98% of this movie is a battle. Five pages of the script is actual dialogue.
The rest is war.
The first 30-minutes of 300: II is just about all slow motion, and not even the cool, Matrixy kind. It’s rather pointless slow motion, like watching a rope fall to the ground, or seeing a horse’s reaction to the carnage around it. It’s even hilarious that Persian leader Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) emerges as a “God King” with a nose ring and his eyebrows done. I had no idea the Devil was so metrosexual.
Speaking of pretty, this Artemisia (Eva Green) is pretty, but not as pretty as the narrator describes. But DAMN can she whoop some ass. Although I would have preferred another face, Green does an amazing job acting, just about replacing the presence of Gerard Butler. Yeah, this 300 sequel thankfully has at least one actor to watch.
Yet, despite that, my biggest issue with Rise of an Empire is that the sequel part doesn’t even start until the last 40-minutes of the movie. The first hour is just the first 300 — Zack Snyder’s 300 — from a different perspective (Battle of Artemisia over Battle of Thermopylae), and the slow motion capture blood splatter makes it feel like a big budget episode of Spartacus. Also hilarious, is that there is only one skinny guy in the whole movie and he looked REALLY nervous heading into battle. Can’t blame him, I guess.
Look. I could sit here and pick apart this movie for hours, but I wish not to disturb the peaceful plans of a unified Greece. So I will leave you with this: If you want to see non-stop sword clashing, arrow flying, ship ramming awesomeness, 300: Rise of an Empire is a great movie. If you hate everything, like I do, it’s an even greater movie to enjoy and complain about later.
Warner Bros. Pictures’ 300: Rise of an Empire in theaters today, Friday, March 7.