"You've come a long way to stroke your cock while you watch real men train."
There are exactly three reasons to (not) watch 300: Rise of an Empire.
The best of these reasons is Eva Green. She's the reason I watched it, and ignoring all the movie's other shortcomings I was not disappointed in her. She has massive screen presence. She's so deliciously evil as Artemisia I often found myself rooting for her (evil) Persians instead of the (good) Greeks. She manages to infiltrate a movie full to the brim with gigantic men and tower over them with her sinister sneer and calculating eyes. She brings life to the hollow cavern the movie calls a script. And she does it without batting an eye or breaking a sweat.
The second is a show-stoppingly hilarious sex scene between the two opposing leads. Very little happens in the movie: the first 15 minutes set up the reason for the two forces to battle, and then they do just that for the rest of the run time. But right in the middle, right at the film's structural—and in the case literal—climax, the two sides quit fighting with their weapons in order to get together and fight with their genitals. And a fight it truly is: they grapple and thrust at each other as if their organs were blades, and their moans are an indistinguishable mix of pleasure and pain. I was in stitches.
And the third is an action set piece during the final battle which I have to admit was actually pretty awesome. While there was clearly some effort put into all of the choreography, most of it ends up looking like b-roll footage scrapped together from leftovers of the original 300. But not here. Here we have a naval battle in which Themistocles rides a horse across the tops of the attacking navy and into the heart of the enemy fleet, straight to Artemisia. The blend of live action footage and computer animation makes it look like a single take, and while its artifice is obvious, so is its careful orchestration. There are loving hands pulling the strings, and it shows on screen.
Everything else is just about as bad as you'd expect from a shameless cash-grab sequel like this. What would this movie even be without the original 300 to lend it credence? The digital special effects are obvious, the overabundant speeches are vacuous, the characters are flat, and the plot is nonexistent. There's so much slow motion that if you played the movie at full speed from start to finish it would run under an hour. The entire movie is a thin excuse to reproduce the series of visual flourishes created in the original film without building on them or using them in new ways.
But I suppose there are enjoyable elements in it, even if they're few and far between.
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