I came into this movie thinking it was directed by Zack Snyder. However, that is not the case, although Snyder did produce and write the screenplay. This film is directed by Noam Murro, a man so inexperienced and unknown that he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Not really instilling me with confidence. On the other hand, I only found that out at the end of the movie, so there wasn’t really any confidence to instill in me by then anyway.
If you have read about the history of the Greco-Persian wars, specifically regarding the second invasion of Greece, then you probably know the story this film is trying to tell. I have read about these legends a few times because I have always been interested in history. The idea of making the saga of Leonidas and the Spartans into a visual reenactment for theaters wasn’t a bad idea and I give credit to the people who originally proposed the idea. It’s nice to see something new that has historical significance to it and hasn’t been translated into a film far too many times already.
With that said, I was disappointed with 300. It’s one of the greatest stories of military history, a tale that has been passed throughout the centuries and Snyder couldn’t even make a memorable film about it? As I discussed in my 300 review, the action scenes are fulfilling but had room for improvement and so did the rest of the plot, characters, and really everything this movie had to offer.
So when I say that I went to see 300: Rise of an Empire so I could write a review on it and nothing more, I mean just that. Was I hoping for some entertainment and enjoyment to come out of it? Of course, but my standards weren’t very high and remember, this is when I thought Zack Snyder was the one directing.
The film charges out of the gates well, giving us a flashback to what occurred before the battle of the 300. The action is good although slow-motion is still smacking me in the face although not as much as in 300.What’s hitting me in the face even more is the unconscionable amount of blood splatter that is coming out of every wound inflicted on the battlefield. It’s like someone put a hose in the stunt doubles filled with red paint and just set it loose. It’s preposterous and incredibly fictionalized but I’m dealing with it because after all the movie just started. It’s probably just trying to get us pumped for what is to come, right?
Never heard of Sullivan Stapleton or of Eva Green. Oh wait, I take that back, she was in Casino Royale, a movie I have no interest to talk about so moving on. Stapleton is suiting up as Themistocles, the Athenian politician/general hybrid that does everything for the safety and preservation of Greece. He has no family or spouse and is the strongest of patriots. History views Themistocles, not Leonidas, as the ultimate savior of Greece, a detail overlooked because of the great Battle of Thermopylae, the battle of the 300. Therefore, I’m expecting a lot of this Stapleton fellow. I don’t care if he doesn’t have a lot of film experience. That’s not my problem. He decided to take on the role of one of the most famous Greeks to ever live. Hope you didn’t pick a pair of boots you couldn’t fill, bud.
Then we have Eva Green as Artemisia, Xerxes’ naval captain who leads the fight against Themistocles. Artemisia is volatile, unpredictable and especially heinous. There’s not much known of her past history so most of it is fictionalized, some of it to an extent that the story didn’t need to go into.
There’s not nearly enough of Xerxes in this flick, a disappointment for me. The guy’s huge and intimidating so the more of him the better, something the audience is not gifted with.
Once you get to the halfway point, the film begins the turn for the worst. Stapleton isn’t giving me enough as Themistocles aside from a few too many uplifting speeches that aren’t all that uplifting, although Green is holding down her side of the fort. Then out of the blue, the film turns into an adult film for a three minute period, with a hardcore sex sequence that doesn’t add anything to the film. It’s incredibly repulsive and off-putting and didn’t need to be there. Following that, the film just goes further and further downhill as the plot and dialogue get cheesy and predictable. The characters lose any depth that the actors had built up during the first half of the film. The blood hoses get even more obnoxious as the film goes on and the ferocious intensity of the film is lost as the audience becomes more and more indifferent towards the third-rate material they’re presented with.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
90-100 It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Mission Impossible, Mission Impossible II, Mission Impossible III)
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Lone Survivor, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Next Three Days, Basic, The Other Guys)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Aliens, Alien Resurrection, Full Metal Jacket, Thor, You’re Next)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Great Gatsby, Pitch Black, Alien, Serendipity, Cowboys and Aliens)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Midnight Cowboy, Dark Fury, Alien 3, Open Grave)
My score for 300: Rise of an Empire: 49.
The fact that the film teases at seeing some Spartans destroy stuff and then it doesn’t happen aside from the last three minutes of the film enrages me to no end. Couple that with some incredibly disappointing acting and direction from a director that no one’s ever heard of and you get a film that I wish I had never seen. The sad thing is there will probably be a third one, because there’s still another part of the Greco-Persian wars to tell. Since I’ve watched the first two, I’ll probably have to go see that already pre-determined hunk of garbage. Man!