Look guys, I don’t know what you want me to tell you. Does the new 300 film have epic battle scenes? Rousing speeches that separate the mice from the men? Blood spurting off the 3D screen in slow motion? Yes, yes and yes.
The reason that the original 300 film was so successful is that it was an unashamed boys’ film; chockfull of action, fights that will make you squeal out loud, an underdog story worthy of any premier league season. It was made for a generation of gamers and comic book geeks. Looking for intelligent dialogue and complicated characters? What, are you lost? This is Sparta! (Sorry, I had to)
The sequel, Rise of an Empire does not stray from a formula that works. It still has that sepia-tone and eccentric Persian characters that typified the original. The cinematographic style recalls dubstep music, playing with time and doing a visual version of the “beat drop” that makes whiteboys go crazy on the dance floor.
The story, which takes place around and after the events of the first film, is a little bit more complex. Themistocles is trying to unite the city-states into a democratic Greece that can stand up against the Persian menace. He is hopeful that the noble end of the Spartans will be the emotional catalyst necessary for this to happen. On the opposing side is lurid and ostentatious Xerxes, in whose back story we get to learn how and why he magically grew in mass and height and turned gold, and his naval commander Artemisia. Artemisia, played by Eva Green, is the real gem of the movie, sexy, sordid and strong. Without the presence of the stylish gothic leader and widowed Queen Gorgo, the film would entirely be a sausage factory. Artemisia has a sympathetic back story, fights more skilfully than any of the men, and looks awesome doing it. I was left wondering why we were expected to root for the bland, white-bread, vacant-as-male-strippers Greeks instead of the feisty, full-of-heart Persian.
So Rise of an Empire is not the smartest, most original film. It is based on a comic book not a work of historical non-fiction. But you did not buy your ticket hoping for a meditation on the West’s hegemonic fetishisation of democracy and patriotism. Enjoy the gore, the action, the abs and the CGI.
Plot: uncomplicated enough to follow but with a few unnecessary detours.
Acting: Uneven, but Eva Green shines.
Directing: competent enough, but not groundbreaking like the original.
Music: unmemorable for most, except followers of techno producer Junkie XL.