Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro, Jack O'Connell, Andrew Tiernan, Igal Naor, Andrew Pleavin
Written by: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller
Directed by: Noam Murro
MPAA Rating: R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language
Running Time: 102
Date: 03/07/2014

300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

1 Star (out of 4)

Mope Chests

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

300: Rise of an Empire is like a Chippendales show, with more fake blood and fewer brains. The movie starts with droning exposition -- explaining a plot that is historically inaccurate anyway -- and adds wooden dialogue and stilted speeches (almost all of which contain words like "vengeance" and "glory"). Then it throws in a boatload of posing, shirtless, chiseled, bearded men that are difficult to tell apart from one another. This is followed by an ongoing array of slow-motion sequences of swords slicing into bodies, limbs, and heads, and huge sprays of fake-looking computer-generated blood. Dust often floats in the foreground to highlight the 3D.

Set before, during and after the events of 300 (2007), the story turns to Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), who wishes to unite all of Greece in a new democracy. The Spartans oppose his idea, and he must go to war against the powerful Persian navy, led by the vengeful warrior Artemisia (Eva Green) and the half-God king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). But when the 300 Spartans die in battle, they become martyrs, bringing all the fighting forces together for one cause. Unfortunately Themistocles and Artemisia have some personal history together that complicates things.

The monotony of the rest of the movie throws into sharp relief one character, the fierce, chilly warrior Artemisia (Eva Green). Green can't do much with this one-dimensional role, but she's by far the best thing in the movie. Zack Snyder adapted Frank Miller's graphic novel, while Noam Murro (Smart People) directed. The final product is brutal, boring, and dumb, though it will no doubt entertain the many fans of the hit original.

The Blu-ray release from Warner Home Video looks and sounds superb, which is its only real job. The movie itself remains the same. Extras include several behind-the-scenes featurettes. The set comes with a DVD and a digital Ultraviolet copy of the movie.

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