Review: 300: Rise of an Empire (Murro, 2014)

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Six years after Zack Snyder’s visually dazzling 300 amazed critics and audiences worldwide with its unique colour scheme and excellent cinematography, its long awaited sequel hits screens this spring. But while the original revolutionised the action film genre, pushing special effects to the limit to create some of the best battle scenes ever captured on film, this new outing just feels like a lazy, unnecessary rehash of what are essentially the same events. Die-hard fans of the original Henry Miller comics may find some satisfaction in seeing some of the comic book material brought to the big screen, but casual moviegoers and fans of the first film will be sourly disappointed by a film thats lack of substance leads us to see through its ultra-slick style and ask – is that all?

 Let’s start with the plot, which won’t take long because there isn’t actually an awful lot of it. What we do find out is confusing, as the film jumps around between the history of Persia and a battle between Athens and the Persian navy, which is occurring at the same time as King Leonitus and his merry band of 300 Spartans are letting all hell unfold. There’s a new guy on the scene, Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), and it is he and an Athenian army who will confront King Xerxes’s (scary bald guy from the first one) second army, commanded by the deranged Artemisia (Eva Green). What ensues is 2 hours of over the top speeches and people getting cut up in slow motion… on boats. One can’t help but feel that the entire events of the film could have been summed up in an extra fifteen minutes of scenes included in the first film.

The effects are still super clear and the action scenes still overly gory, but without a compelling story or the riveting abilities of Gerard Butler to keep us entertained, it is hard not to get bored quickly of the seemingly pointless and repetitive action scenes. Even Eva Green’s spectacular pair being shown in all its 3D, high definition glory during a bizarre sex scene cannot save this one from ending up as wholly unnecessary.

The ending sets the franchise up quite clearly for a sequel, but they’re going to have to do better than this if the third film is to in any way live up to the momentous impact of the original.


Ciaran Dermott