So … This is NOT Sparta?
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Let’s see if I still know how to do it. So, I saw a movie. And that was a good thing. Movies are good. …SHIT! This is harder than I thought! I haven’t written a review in a while, and I actually haven’t been to the theaters in a while either. I don’t think I’ve seen a movie this year! Shameful, it is! I think school is mainly to blame. I like to try to set up my school schedule to allow me plenty of time for sleep and other fun activities such as movies … and then I realize mid-semester that it isn’t going to work out as planned. But then Spring Break happened, so I had two days off, and I apparently decided that I should make them Ancient Greek/Roman appreciation day. If you know what’s in theaters you’ll probably already know what I saw, but the first movie I saw was 300: Rise of an Empire, based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller, written by Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, directed by Noam Murro, and starring Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro, Lena Headey, Jack O’Connell, Yigal Naor, Andrew Tiernan, David Wenham, Hans Matheson, and Peter Mensah.
In the Battle of Marathon, General Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) of Athens kills King Darius I (Yigal Naor) of Persia in front of his son, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). And everyone acts like he did something wrong for some reason. I was under the impression that this is how war works. Well, I can understand Xerxes getting all pissy that his dad died, and that’s just what he does. His dying father tells him that the Greeks can only be defeated by a God. I believe this was intended to get Xerxes to stop the war as that would be the simplest method, but Xerxes decides that he should become a God instead, mainly because his naval commander, Artemisia (Eva Green), tells him that’s what it means. Well Xerxes goes and swims in some funky pool and comes out gigantic, bejeweled, and golden. So he’s a God now. And he wants to get his revenge on that damned Themistocles, and all of Greece while he’s at it.
The first question I had for this movie is, “Where are the 300 Spartans?” The answer to that is, “Elsewhere. We just wanted to use the title.” This movie happens at roughly the same time as the Battle of Thermopylae that we saw in the first movie. At least they were right that we’d be watching an empire rise. This time, we’ll watch less awesome warriors with less awesome abs fighting less awesome battles written by less awesome people. So the movie is less awesome, but it’s still thoroughly watchable. Sure there’s some stupid writing here, but I expected no less. I came for the fights, and we’ll get to that later. For now I’ll just say that the story wasn’t anything spectacular. It was a little bit historical facts, but mostly just excuses to take us from one fight to the next. And some stupid dialogue. Let us not act like we didn’t expect that. And by “that,” I mean lines like, “Ferocity matched only by beauty, which is matched only by her devotion to the king.” That shows a gross misunderstanding of the word “only.”
The fights in this movie were good, but less significant as they were mostly things we had seen before in the first movie. Lots of topless dudes cutting limbs off in slow motion. And boy did they love using slow motion. I’m pretty sure this movie would be about 23 minutes long if they played the entire thing at regular speed. But that’s okay because they included plenty enough violence and gore to hold my attention. The nautical battles were less interesting to me, and there were a few too many of them in comparison to the regular combat, but I got by. Plus, they had a really interesting and innovative fight between Themistocles and Artemisia later in the movie, with an entirely different kind of stabbing. This was a battle of genitals! A sexual skirmish! A very interesting type of combat, and one that I’d be interested in learning. Especially with Eva Green.
The cast of the movie all did what they had to do and I had no real complaints. My favorite was definitely Eva Green. She was pretty badass in the movie, and more importantly, she was pretty topless in the movie. I found this very significant, but apparently it’s not all that uncommon within her movie career. But it’s the first movie I had seen her in where she was so exposed, and I found it to be a blessing. I was always confused by Rodrigo Santoro’s Xerxes in the original 300. Why would they decide to make what is supposed to be such an intimidating figure a giant, hairless, bejeweled individual with a creepy voice and ambiguous sexuality? When I first saw him in this movie, I was much happier that he got to be regular looking … and then they turned him back into Baldie McGayBalls again. But he was almost a secondary villain to Artemisia in this movie, so he was much easier to tolerate. And I suppose his performance was fine as well. Sullivan Stapleton was fine in this movie as well, but he was attempting to take the reins from Gerard Butler’s Leonidas and that’s a high bar of badass to reach.
300: Rise of an Empire probably shouldn’t have been called 300 because it really doesn’t have anything much to do with that story, and this story probably suffered for it. The story isn’t as good as I it jumped the gun on what could eventually be some awesome source material, the fights weren’t nearly as good because the Greeks aren’t nearly as awesome as the Spartans, but the performances were mostly good though no one was quite as awesome as Gerard Butler’s Leonidas, or even Michael Fassbender’s Stelios. But the movie is completely watchable and an entertaining enough way to spend a few hours, but it’s also entirely skippable. 300: Rise of an Empire gets “Leonidas is dead” out of “If death comes, I’m ready!”
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