Sunday, June 22, 2014

Video review: "300: Rise of an Empire"

Like its 2007 predecessor, “300: Rise of an Empire” is lusty parade of six-pack abs and copious bloodlettings, set against a historical backdrop that’s been washed through the spin cycle of modern fantasy tropes.

It has all the violence of the last movie, though no equally compelling figure like Gerard Butler’s commanding Leonidas, and certainly none of the verve and wit. If the last movie was dumb-but-glorious, the sequel is the same, minus the glory.

Set soon after the Battle of Thermopylae, “Rise of an Empire” depicts the sea battle between the forces of Persian god/king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and the Greek armies, led by Athenian general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton). Artemisia (Eva Green) is his primary nemesis, a ferocious military leader with a mysterious and tragic background.

The blood and guts fly prodigiously, and new director Noam Murro copies predecessor Zack Snyder’s penchant for speeding up and slowing down the action so we can gaze at the beautiful ribbons of crimson arcing across the screen. This movie has few of the mythological beasties of the last one, so it’s essentially man-on-man carving of flesh.

There are a lot of silly moments here, but probably the goofiest is when Themistocles and Artemisia hold a parley prior to the battle, which soon devolves into much grabbling of flesh. It’s supposed to be sexy; instead it’s laugh-out-loud awful.

Even if you’re a teenager or still one in heart, “300: Rise of an Empire” quickly grows tiresome, then pathetic.

The video comes with a decent-enough array of extra features, including a making-of documentary titled “The 300 Effect.” There are also featurettes on “Real Leaders & Legends,” “Women Warriors,” “Savage Warships” and “Becoming a Warrior.”

Extras are the same for Blu-ray and DVD versions.



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