Friday, March 7, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire

'Rise of an Empire' is the fall of a franchise. Made for fans of bad SyFy original movies and cheap knock-offs.

Rated R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language.

300: Rise of an Empire

You know how every time a big movie comes out, a knock-off is immediately released to Redbox or Netflix? Rise of an Empire feels like the knock-off to 2007’s 300, only its seven years too late. Everything great from the original is completely absent here, leaving nothing more than a generic, direction-less spin-off replica with some of the worst special effects I’ve seen in years.

When 300 opened, like everyone in the world, I praised it. It was stylistically creative and new. The action was stellar. And there was very little fault to find in it. It wasn’t until I watched the film a second time that I realized how bloated it is, but it was still entertaining. When the sequel/spin-off was announced, I immediately got worried. The great thing about 300 was how refreshingly unique it was, so making a sequel would undo the originality and greatness of the first. Just as I feared, 300: Rise of an Empire completely undermines and bastardizes 300.

Rise of an Empire isn’t exactly a sequel or a prequel; it’s more of a spin-off. It opens with a large recap of historical events that happened 10 years prior to the Persians invading Greece. It’s in this segment that we meet our new lead character, Themistokles (played by some no-name that you haven’t seen or heard of before), the Greek leader who killed Xerxes’ father and fueled the vengeful rage that pushed Xerxes to invade Greece. Shortly thereafter, we get another long backstory, this one introducing the head of Xerxes’ navy, Artemisia (Eva Green, Casino Royale).

Finally, after who knows how far into the movie, we get to the proper narrative. Xerxes and his people are coming to invade. Cramming it into our face that this movie is set during the same timeframe as 300, Themistokles seeks the aid of Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey, Gerard Butler’s wife in 300), but she explains that Leonidas and his 300 men will fight their own battle. Themistokles leaves and puts together a small army and navy and intentionally heads straight into Artemisia’s fleet in the sea. Much to her surprise, his tactics are brilliant and, just like the 300 that are fighting on the shores, you can’t judge his power based on his numbers.

300: Rise of an Empire is slow and plodding. The stylized action of the 300 is poorly recreated here. The zipping around from slow motion to fast motion is headache-inducing. On top of that, the CG effects are awful. Slow-mo blood spraying is laughably bad. While the blood spewed from wounds in 300 like that of an anime cartoon, in Rise of an Empire it looks like mud. This cheesy mud-blood effect looks like something you’d see in a 15-year-old CG animated movie like Shrek, not a state-of-the-art top-of-the-line modern movie. Instead of watching a new director’s attempt at creating a unique 300 spin-off, Rise of an Empire feels like the director is trying his hardest to simply re-create everything that Zack Snyder did so well in the first movie.

Without leaving any open ends, the ending of Rise of an Empire alludes to the idea that there might be more 300 movies to come. After seeing this disaster, I sure hope there aren’t.

(Photo credit: Warner Bros.)

1 out of 5

blog comments powered by Disqus