When “300” came out almost seven years ago, you probably either thought it was the coolest movie of all time or the lamest movie of all time. While it was dumb and silly, the film’s glorified violence, striking look, and classic one-liners did admittedly have an effect on the macho dinosaur in me. The sad truth is that the style over substance appeal of “300” is only good for one movie. The first time you see such eye candy popping out at the screen, it’s friggin’ awesome. The second time around, it’s about as repetitive as watching Optimus Prime transform over and over again. That’s just one of the reasons why “300: Rise of the Empire” is dead on arrival.
This long awaited sequel of sorts shifts focus from Leonidas and his merry men to the Greek navy. They’re lead by general Themistokles, played by Sullivan Stapleton who can’t hold a candle to Gerard Butler. On the opposing team is Eva Green as Artemisia, a Greek dominatrix now playing for the Persian army. It’s nearly impossible to remember any of these characters by name, as they’re all interchangeable blank slates lacking any humor or personality. Granted, a few have interesting back-stories, such as Rodrigo Santoro as good old Xerxes. However, the exposition is so rushed through dull narration that you never develop an emotional connection to anyone.
But what am I doing using words like “emotion” in a review of “300?” Nobody going to see this movie will care about the character development or the hero’s journey. What they will care about is super slow mo action, CGI blood, pointless nudity, CGI backdrops, unintentionally hilarious sex scenes, CGI everything, speeches ripped-off from superior historical war epics, and more action. What’s really shocking is that “300: Rise of an Empire” can’t even deliver a descent action set piece.
Much of the film takes place on giant, bland ships on the bland, dark sea. Restricting the major battles to one environment backfires big time, making the already repetitive action feel even more repetitive. The vibrant colors of the original film are meanwhile traded in for a grimy look as rain pours on our topless heroes. Director Noam Murro can occasionally produce a nice shot. But for the most part, he’s made quite a lifeless looking film that’s a pale imitation of Zack Snyder’s original.
“300: Rise of an Empire” is without any applause worthy kills. It doesn’t have a single quotable line of dialog. The film isn’t even memorable enough for the likes of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer to “parody.” Halfway through, you’ll find yourself thinking, “This is actually kind of boring.” When it’s all over, you’ll be thinking, “Seriously, that was it?” The fact that a movie such as this isn’t even mindlessly entertaining is the greatest sin of all.
• Ahwatukee native and Desert Vista graduate Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.