Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is a fascinating character. Tall, handsome, glimmering in gold and a swagger in his walk; Leonidas(Gerard Butler) leaves this King of God scarred on his face with a spear hurled at him during the concluding reels of 300. He has his own back story here. His transformation from a mere mortal to a man who is vicious and evil; Xerxes has a grand IMAX moment where he greets his followers from above the palace. And even though it is supposed to be based on a yet to be published graphic novel by Frank Miller, he is hardly there and maybe the makers missed a trick or two. They should have made an entire film on him.
A 2007 film, 300 was an interesting watch and has a good amount of followers mainly because of a strong lead and his quest to achieve the impossible. The imposition of chroma key technique by saturating the images to give a more comic book effect was visually spectacular and to accompany it was a cool soundtrack which had a heady effect for fans that vouch for style in cinema.
300: Rise of an Empire follows the event around the earlier version and replicates the entire ploy from its predecessor but fails with terrible effect to the point of nausea.
The film has its theme centred around Themistocles(Sullivan Stapleton)and his army of men who tries to stop Xerxes invading the city of Athen by sea. With no initial help from Queen Gorgo(Lena Headey) and her men and so as the rest of Greece, it’s a battle on fleet by tactics and strategies to avoid the Persian army from invading the city.
Add to it an interesting character of Artimisia(Eva Green); commander of the Persian forces who is ferocious and resentful. With a dark past of being a sexual slave by her own countrymen in younger days, Artimisia has the right intentions to wreck havoc on the Greeks. After being rescued by a Persian who tutors her with great sword playing abilities, she gains the trust of King Darius; father of Xerxes and even tops the army rank.
The movie spills blood right from the initial frames till the last in so much abundance that it makes the slasher genre flicks look like child’s play. Excessive CGI and slow motion visuals make 102 mins long enough than its duration and it does not help even if you are watching in IMAX 3D for the movie has nothing to ponder or feel thrilled.
The biggest mistake and a huge one at that, is casting Stapleton in the main lead along with a band of amusing men who neither inspire awe nor add rapture to the proceedings. The man just doesn’t look the part with zero screen presence and a clumsy personality to go with, a negative for any warrior. Even the inspirational speech by Themistocles to his men is far from rousing and though Gerard Butler was over the top in the earlier version but he was extremely dependable; surrounded by an equally good bunch of people with the likes of Michael Fassbender etc. to follow their leader passionately till the last hurdle.
Eva Green perfectly plays her part with the violent edges and it is just because of her that you can sit through this motion sickness.
It does not help when you are patronising her intentions rather than the other way around as she livens up the already dark screen and her costume with a fierce intensity. The only sole reason to watch this movie as Eva Green does have all the fun which includes kissing an executed head and an Indian Censor moment which you can watch only in a Blu ray/DVD.
The action sequences are laborious and monotonous this time with no urgency to show something adventurous apart from an aquatic battle splurged with oil. The film strips itself from any innovativeness that was hugely visible in the first instalment. Naom Murro seems mechanical in his skills after being entrusted with the directorial capability by Zack Snyder who was busy with Man of Steel but has co-written the screenplay for this one. With unintentionally funny dialogues and grating music the misery only ends by the closing credits.
Most of the blame lies with the studio trying to milk a franchise out of it and an eye for future series. Also by releasing it in a period devoid of any tent pole competition unlike the summers, they might just succeed. But unless you are a big fan of Eva Green give this banal action flick a miss and if you still venture out for this one then the God’s must be crazy.