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Chris Kavan's Movie Reviews (3228)

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300: Rise of an Empire 
300: On a Boat
3/4 stars

When Zach Snyder gave us 300 back in 2006, it was the perfect storm of amazing CGI, testosterone-driven action (despite the fake abs) and just a bit of titillation - not to mention some great source material via Frank Miller. Fast-forward to 2014 and we get this somewhat-sequel (a lot of the action in this film essentially takes place during the events of the first film - just in a completely different area) - and, despite Snyder moving on to bigger and better things, Noam Murro manages to capture that same feeling. Granted, things are a little played out now on that front, but Rise of an Empire still delivers an over-the-top action experience that is plenty enjoyable if you enjoyed the original.

We open with the Battle of Marathon where an early Persian incursion, led by King Darius, is met with a surprise attack headed by Athenian Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) - thanks to his bold move the invasion is stopped - and he himself delivers the fatal shot to the king, though he leaves his son, Xerses (Rodrigo Santoro, reprising his role from the first film) alive - a mistake that will come back to haunt him - along with the rest of Greece). Back in Persia, we are introduced to Darius' most loyal admiral, the smoking-hot (but wickedly evil) Artemisia (Eva Green - looking sultry as ever) - who wastes no time in sending the king off to the promised land while planting a seed in his son's ear. Xerses goes off to fulfill his destiny by making a dark pact and becoming the monstrously huge "god-king" of his million-man army.

Thus we catch up with the original 300 - Themistokles, seeking aid from Sparta, tries to convince Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) to provide support - in the form of ships to bolster his rather ramshackle navy - but is turned down - King Leonides plans on launching is own attack after being slighted by the Persian messenger. Going back to Athens empty-handed, he must plan a course of action against a much larger force (both in numbers and sheer size of ships). Luckily Themistokles is a great tactician and it helps - for a bit - until a one-on-one meeting with the opposing admiral (that turns into a fight/sex scene that has to be seen to be believed) leads to a near disaster.

Rise of an Empire features many of the same things that made the original so good - slo-mo battles that doesn't skimp on the blood (I'm sure those watching in 3D felt like they were in the front row of Sea World - but drenched in blood rather than water), the return of those unnatural chiseled abs all the actors support and, thanks to Green, that added little dash of sexuality. That fight scene alone is worth the price of admission - as is seeing her plant a a pretty deep kiss on a decapitated head (MTV better be taking notice - both should be up for awards next year!). But it also gets the same things wrong - there isn't much character development and you can only see so many spears, arrows and swords before it all starts to become a little repetitive. Despite the 102 minute running time, the film certainly felt longer to me. And I could have used more Green - she is the main reason to see this film and owns pretty much every scene she's in - and, out of all the characters, her story is also the most interesting.

What I do appreciate was the ways this film crossed paths with the first movie - Besides Headey and Santoro, David Wenham and even Andrew Pleavin (playing the disfigured traitor Daxos) also reprise their roles and the story lines up quite well with the original movie. I felt the ending was a bit rushed (who brings a horse to ship fight? That's about as inane as the tank chase scene in Fast 6) and, let's face it, Stapleton didn't have quite the presence of Gerard Butler from the original film - but, all in all, it was quite entertaining - for those who crave action, it scratches that itch. It may not reach summer blockbuster levels in terms of grosses, but I think the outcome was better than I was expecting.


Recent Comments

Comment On Review

Looneymanthegreat

Looneymanthegreat- wrote on 06/29/14 at 12:17 AM CT

 

I think that the Eva Greene angry sex scene is one of the most memorable (for better or for worse) movie moments of the year so far. It's so memorable, in stark contrast to the rest of the movie, that It kind of consumes the whole movie. So ya, I agree, Eva Greene was the best part of this movie, and It'll be interesting to see what she does in Sin City. Good review by the way. It's always nice to see somebody put in the extra effort to write a full-on critical review (3000+ Characters.)

 
 
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