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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

300: Rise of an Empire (3-D) | Sullivan Stapleton, Rodrigo Brandao, Eva Green, Lena Heady | Review

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3 Chicks SmallJacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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300:  Rise of an Empire  (3-D) | Sullivan Stapleton, Rodrigo Brandao, Eva Green, Lena Heady | Review

The Athenians take on the decadent, multi-pierced God-King Xerxes (Rodrigo Brandao) and his army of Persian plunderers in this sequel to the Spartan-powered film that started it all.

After King Leonidas (Gerard Butler, shown dead and as a severed head) and his men meet their defeat at Thermopylae, Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) of Athens rallies his troops to attack the marauding Persians.  Taking place before, during and after the events that led to Leonidas and his small, valiant men’s defeat, the backstory unfolds in voice-over exposition from Leonidas’ widow, Queen Gorgo (Lena Heady) who refuses to avenge the king’s death when asked by Themistocles.

Xerxes is aided in his battles by the cruel, bloodthirsty Artemisia (Eva Green) born Greek but allied with Persia after losing her parents violently and suffering childhood abuse at the hands of Greek soldiers.  Now grown into a deadly warrior, Artemisia sets her sights on destroying Athens and of course, Themistocles – but only after having violent “relations” with him.

A fierce battle ensues, giving the viewer plenty of opportunity to witness graceful arterial spurts, choreographed sword swings, rapid dismemberments, and dead-on arrow launches as they unfold across the wide screen in a variety of speeds.  The stylized ferocity is almost hypnotic, matching and surpassing the elegant bloodshed of its predecessor, but denying the characters any real dimension beyond bloodlust and vengeance.

In the brief moments between battles, the viewer is left to count the individual abs on the scantily-clad warriors and wonder where in the world Artemisia acquired fishnet stockings.  Themistocles’ speeches to his dwindling, ill-prepared troops, meant to be motivating, fall flat.

Sullivan Stapleton shouts the words but lacks the passion to galvanize his men, much less the audience. Ancient-era club kid Rodrigo Brandao is an intriguing and engaging gilded fury with too few scenes to chew.  Eva Green makes a loud crunch with hers.

The 3-D effect brings all of the blood and the frenzy into your lap, and if this were a live action show the audience would need a plastic tarp to keep the gore from slapping them in the face.  Still, there’s a seductive flow to the action but there is also a repetitiveness that makes for eventual tedium and worse, a numbness that sets in once you realize that there are absolutely no sympathetic characters to cheer on.  You’ll find much more depth in the impressive underwater scenes.
Director Noam Murro (Smart People) works with source material from Frank Miller’s sequel to the original “300″ graphic novel, “Xerxes” adapted for the screen by writer/producer Zack Snyder, who directed the first “300″ and Kurt Johnstad (“300”, Act of Valor).  The violence almost never plays out in real time, constantly slowing down, stopping and speeding up (known as speed-ramping in the biz).  While that might satisfy pre-teen gamers, it can’t fill the void left by Gerard Butler’s charismatic leader in the first film.
With that kind of deficit it can’t be expected to rise very high at all.

 

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