Northeast Times

Artemisia makes ‘300: Rise of an Empire’ worth seeing

‘300: Rise of an Em­pire’

Does a movie from eight years ago really need a se­quel? Was any­one clam­or­ing to see more of the Spartans versus the Per­sians?

I cer­tainly wasn’t, as I didn’t care for the first 300 and cer­tainly didn’t see the need for a se­quel. However, since 300 was hugely suc­cess­ful and made lots of money, the ap­peal is ob­vi­ous from a busi­ness stand­point. If you were a big fan of the first flick, you’ll likely find 300: Rise of an Em­pire worth see­ing, mostly on the strength of its vil­lain.

Something that stands out in Rise of an Em­pire was the pres­ence of a fe­male vil­lain. Cas­u­al audi­ences may not re­mem­ber much about this movie after leav­ing the theat­er, but one thing that will be hard to for­get is former Bond girl Eva Green (Casino Roy­ale) as Artemisia, lead­er of the Per­sian army. For­get about the guys. In­stead, Artemisia was the char­ac­ter with the most cha­ris­mat­ic per­son­al­ity. Her part was way over-the-top and out­land­ish, but I was quite im­pressed by Green’s gusto in play­ing the role. In fact, I was al­most root­ing for her at the end even though she was the “bad guy.”

There is a lot about Rise of an Em­pire that makes it pretty darn sim­il­ar to its pre­de­cessor. One thing that stays the same is the scores of shirt­less men with six-pack abs. There are a lot of big, bloody battles with in­ter­spersed slow mo­tion mo­ments. Lena Heady, who played Queen Gorgo in the first flick, makes a few brief ap­pear­ances, but no­tice­ably miss­ing from the se­quel is star Ger­ard But­ler, who played King Le­onides. Ap­par­ently, But­ler de­cided he didn’t want to re­prise his role.

In­stead, act­or Sul­li­van Stapleton steps in as Themis­tokles, head of the Atheni­an army. Stapleton got the grim­ace down, but was oth­er­wise lack­ing in per­son­al­ity and charm. He was def­in­itely out­shined by Green.

Zach Snyder, dir­ect­or of 300, this time serves only as screen­writer and hands over the dir­ect­ing reins to Noam Murro. The change in dir­ect­or is hardly no­tice­able, as Murro’s style seems very sim­il­ar to Snyder’s.

This is def­in­itely a movie for adult eyes only. The vi­ol­ence is graph­ic (I’m talk­ing de­cap­it­ated heads and lots of blood spill) and so is the sex (one scene in par­tic­u­lar). The storyline is non­sensic­al and al­most nonex­ist­ent, es­pe­cially for someone who doesn’t fol­low Frank Miller’s graph­ic nov­el this was based on. And if you’re a his­tory buff, don’t ex­pect this movie to match up with what really happened. Ba­sic­ally, the Per­sians are at­tempt­ing to take over Greece. As we know from the first flick, the 300 Spartans have been wiped out from fa­cing the Per­sians. This time, it’s the Atheni­ans as the main war­ri­ors who at­tempt to take down the Per­sian army. Real­iz­ing they need help, Themis­tokles calls in the Spartans to help them in battle.

Still, I doubt most people are go­ing in an­ti­cip­at­ing a com­plic­ated story. However, it just felt like the act­ors were say­ing lines in between battle scenes, in­stead of the dia­logue fur­ther­ing the plot. ••

Movie Grade: C-

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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