Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Case for Another 300

300 Rise of an Empire.

Well, what can I really say.

I went in with my eyes open, expecting swords and sandals and well oiled muscles and it delivered.

The muscles are not quite as cut or well oiled this time though, as this time the story is about the Athenians, not the legendary Spartan 300.  While the gang of super cut super warriors fought the forces of Xerxes to the south, the Athenian led Greeks, who spent much less time in the gym honing their six packs, fought the Persian navy.

And that's it, really.  The film reunites some of the old cast (Lena Hedy and David Wenham are back as Spartans, Rodrigo Santoro camps things up as giant Xerxes) to be background to the new battle waged with earnestness by Sullivan Stapleton as Themistocles and with high camp by Eva Green as Artemisia.

Green seems to relish the chance to chew the scenery (luckily it is all low calorie CG) and basically takes the centre stage from the far less interesting Greek heroes.  The battles on the water are... well, lack any sense of actual strategy or tactics and reek of convenience and plot contrivance, but the action is a lot more entertaining than the turgid dialogue.  Whenever the characters interact, the whole enterprise slows to a crawl, and even the obligatory "attempted conversion" sex scene starts off with a cliche heavy exchange and then the act itself comes across as confused and ill conceived.

Besides Green, it is really hard to tell if anyone is really enjoying themselves - though I would wager that Santoro had fun swanning around as Xerxes again.  I know my own enjoyment varied from entertained to nodding off to wanting to shout out MontyPython quotes at the screen ("'Tis but a scratch!", "Fwee Bawabas!"), but as my expectations were low, I can't say I came out of the film disappointed.

No, I came away with what I expected: rubbish, drivel, and lots of slow motion CGI blood.  Though I was concerned for the (rather stupidly used) horse, and hope it too was a CGI construction.

Verdict: 300 Rise of an Empire is a nice way for some actors to work out and get great abs and earn a bit of money, and for an army of CG artists to render uber violence in new and creative ways.  No need for interesting characters or witty dialogue or innovative direction, and the film definitely steers away from these.  2 abs in a six pack.

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