300: Rise of an Empire

A new review from The Movie Snob.

300: Rise of an Empire  (C).  I kind of liked the first 300, a garish and gory spectacle in which Gerard Butler (The Ugly Truth) led 300 mighty Spartans against the entire Persian army in the Battle of Thermopylae.  The sequel ups the ante with barrels of gore and a fair number of severed heads and limbs, but somehow it’s just not as much fun as the original.  This time around the focus is on the Athenian naval resistance to the Persian invasion of Greece, and part of the problem may be that Athenians aren’t as cool as Spartans.  Their leader, Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton, December Boys), may be a tactical genius, but he’s also kind of a wet blanket, and the rest of the Athenians are a bland bunch indeed.  It’s up to Eva Green (Casino Royale) to liven up the proceedings as the villainous Persian naval commander Artemisia, and she delivers the goods with a wild, over-the-top performance that really must be seen to be believed.  I mean, any old villain can cut off the head of a luckless Athenian prisoner of war, but who would think to give the severed head a passionate and lingering kiss before casually tossing it aside?  Artemisia, that’s who.  And her one-on-one parley with Themistocles right before the climactic battle does strike a few sparks (and cause a few bruises, I daresay).  But when Green’s off-screen, Rise of an Empire is really a fairly dull affair.

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