The first 300 was undoubtedly accomplished in its kinetic, comic book-style visuals. Whether you found those visuals to be the coolest thing ever or migraine-inducing, they presented a fully realized, singular vision of what an action movie could be. It was one of those cinematic innovations that demanded you have a reaction to it one way or the other.
The sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire, keeps the same style more or less out of sense of obligation. It’s not that director Noam Murro (taking over for Zack Snyder, who remained on as a producer) isn’t happy to play around in this sandbox, it’s that he doesn’t offer any new twists on the whole shebang. A parade of limbs are hacked off with ease, and it is all too boring to even be disturbing.
One bright spot is the unbelievably smoldering Eva Green as Queen Artemisia, basically the only interesting character, or at least the only character I remember anything about (though I suppose Sullivan Stapleton did make a modicum of an impression as Athenian general Themistocles). In a world dominated by unbridled masculinity, she wields her femininity in a way that beats the men at their own game. She is a warrior-seductress, sublimely aroused by an existence that is constantly at battle. Accordingly, the only time the movie sparks to life is her negotiation-sex-fight with Themistocles, raucously bringing to the level of text the subtext of all warrior negotiations.
300: Rise of an Empire Rating: C-
Jeff Malone is a voracious entertainment consumer and entertainment creator. He currently resides in New York City, where he is working on a Master’s in Media Studies at The New School. In addition to his pieces on TMRzoo.com, you can check out his blog (jmunney.wordpress.com), where he provides regular coverage of Community and Saturday Night Live, as well as other television, film, music, and the rest of pop culture.