O@tM: 300: Rise of an Empire

In my race to catch up with reviewing all the movies I’ve watchered lately, today I’ll write about the latest flick to grace my computer screen. It’s in no way a fresh new film but sometimes I just watch stuff I kinda wanted to see since a long time already …

After its victory over Leonidas’ 300, the Persian Army under the command of Xerxes marches towards the major Greek city-states. The Democratic city of Athens, first on the path of Xerxes’ army, bases its strength on its fleet, led by admiral Themistocles. Themistocles is forced to an unwilling alliance with the traditional rival of Athens, oligarchic Sparta whose might lies with its superior infantry troops. But Xerxes still reigns supreme in numbers over sea and land.

Threatened by a little girl?

I was really looking forward to 2014s successor to 2006s 300, and I’ve gotta say I was disappointed. Not to badly tho. A weird situation I’m trying to explain later. But first let’s talk about the movie, ok?

The first 300 movie was very interestingly made, a bit like in the style of Sin City. It was based on a comic book, based on a real ancient skirmish, and this style suited the literary blueprint very nicely. Now Rise of an Empire is not based on a comic, and I’m much too lazy to research the historical credibility, but it loses a lot of its appeal right away and appears more like a cash-grab.

Then there is the cast. Oh my! 😐 Sullivan Stapleton gives his best to portray Athen’s general Themistokles but can’t reach Gerard Butler‘s elemental force version of King Leonidas of Sparta from the first 300 movie. I mean how could he? Being Australian doesn’t automatically warrants you a position on Hollywods very own mount Olympos. Altogether his physical appearance was a bit too pretty boy-ish and not rugged enough to be a believable ancient military man.

Lena Headey decently dressed? What a letdown. :/

Nice idea to bring back Leonidas’ widow, Queen Gorgo, played by the always great Cersei Lannister. And another great actress hamming it up was Eva Green as a vengeful Artemisia. Two roles that were mercilessly either freely invented or embiggenized far beyond their historical relevance. I don’t know what’s wrong with modern H-wood, but this kind of grrlpower and emancipation in the bronze-age is nothing but wishful thinking by the screenplay writers and producers. This is such a glaring misrepresentation of ancient history, even the most blind audience members must’ve noticed it.

When towards the end both girls go to town and hacking their enemies into piecemeal sized bundles of meat … I mean this is pure spectacle for spectacle’s sake. Eye-candy for 13 y/o boys. 😦 Okayyy, maybe Rise of an Empire was made for exactly that demographic. So … bravo I guess.

The hero’s crouch.

Also reappearing from the first movie was a very queer and almighty pierced dungeonboy Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), who is totally useless in this film and proves his uselessnes by giving Eva Green the command over his gigantic naval fleet. What a loser. 😐

So by now we have all our speaking roles cast with more or less gay fashion models, not one of them remotely looking like a Greek (or a Persian, for that matter), what about the plot?

To be honest, after the pretty dry and – dare I say it? – boring 300, we got to see a much faster procession in Rise of an Empire, and much more action overall. A naval battle is much more exciting than a bunch of brutes cutting each other into pieces between some rocks in the Greek highlands. But here again, the production method worked against the filmmakers’ intentions. Maybe Zack Snyder should have directed his own screenplay and not left the job in Noam Murro‘s tonedeaf hands. His staging of the battle was weightless and left no impact on me.

CONCLUSION: Time to clear up why my disappointment wasn’t too bad. Because I was expecting exactly what was delivered; a very pretty film that never allowed us to get a bit deeper into it, to break through its pretty surface. The whole movie exists purely of surface, on the dramatic as well as on the action level. An orgy of CGI. All package, no content.

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