Today, 300: Rise Of An Empire debuts. Sadly, my suggestion of “This Time With Blue Cloaks” as a subtitle was snubbed by their marketing department. But you may not be sure you want to see it, so I’ve prepared a simple quiz that will tell you.
First, and most important:
Do You Enjoy Looking At Mostly-Naked Oiled Men?
I bring this up because the showing I attended was crammed to the gills with people who obviously were not there because they have a profound emotional attachment to Frank Miller’s historical fantasy or the movie it spawned, but were rather there for sploosh purposes. And boy, does this movie know it: There’s a sex scene aboard a ship that underscores this audience awareness.
Me, displays of oily men aren’t really my thing, so I can’t speak to whether or not it’s worth your ten bucks in that respect. But there are lots of oily men in this movie, so if the quality’s low, they probably make it up in bulk.
Do You Enjoy Eva Green Overacting And Being Awesome At It?
I do, however, take great pleasure in Eva Green, which is a good thing since she’s about the only actor you’ll find in this entire movie. Green is handed, oddly, a rare opportunity for a woman in Hollywood: The chance to be a completely, unmitigated bloodthirsty monster, basically Vlad The Impaler except “Persian.” And she runs with it; whenever Green’s onscreen, the movie is at least entertaining.
That’s partially due to the fact that nobody else gets anything to do except pose for effects work, bar Lena Headey, who’s onscreen essentially long enough to remind us this is a sequel.
Do You Enjoy Historical Accuracy?
If so, this is decidedly not the movie for you. Granted, 300 was not a paragon of historical accuracy in the first place, but this movie, supposedly based on the 300 sequel Frank Miller keeps threatening to publish, makes it look like a BBC documentary.
The main problem is that it tells a parallel story during and after the events of the first movie, about the Battle of Artemisium and the Battle of Salamis, both of which involve Themistocles, played here by Sullivan Stapleton. The historical Themistocles is actually a pretty awesome character for a movie: He was a magnificent bastard of a politician who tricked his own people into building the navy by riling them up against the Aegeans and who used misinformation, backstabbing, and double-dealing to essentially trick the Persians into just the right spot to get murdered.
Even so, he just barely pulled off defeating the Persians. If the weather hadn’t gone his way, or he hadn’t been so convincing, human history might have been very different.
None of that is really in this movie. Instead it’s largely 300: The Water Ballet as oily men fight on grey ships against grey skies and spurt lots of bodily fluids everywhere. It’s to Noam Murro’s credit that he manages to deliver a solidly directed film when the producers were essentially demanding he just copy the last one, but he manages to make a few scenes his own. There’s a rather… memorable one involving a severed head that you’ll know when you see it.
Do You Enjoy Movies About Gladiators?
Finally, if you just want to see people get stabbed a lot in slow-motion, that’s this in spades. As a straightforward dumb sword-and-sandal flick, this has a bit to recommend it; it’s a lot better than The Legend of Hercules, which is dim praise, but nobody embarrasses themselves here.
Well, aside from Frank Miller. But the entire Greek navy couldn’t keep that ship from sailing.