“300: Rise Of An Empire” A Fun Ride

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HOLLYWOOD—When the visual stunner “300” arrived in theaters back in 2007, it stunned audiences. It was a special effects masterpiece, starred an up and comer Gerard Butler and delivered one of the most stunning lines in cinema, “This is Sparta!”

Well flash-forward a few years later [its hard to believe it’s been nearly SEVEN YEARS] and we have, “300: Rise of an Empire” which finds a new army rising for an epic battle. Butler is out, by returning cast members include  Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo, Rodrigo Santoro as King Xerxes, David Wenham as Dillos and Jack O’Connell as Calisto.  This sequel follows the events in the aftermath of the first picture and the Battle of Salamis. While the first film received critical and audience praise thanks to director Zack Snyder, some may be disappointed this time around. Snyder is still a major player in the movie taking on roles as producer and writer, but handed over directorial duties to Noam Murro.

The picture itself coincides with its 2007 counterpart, it’s a fun-ride, but nothing that will blow your mind away, but that’s ok. It takes your mind off reality for two hours, which is what most flicks should do. Yes, we have the 3D element as a gimmick to throw a few things at the audience’s face, but it works quite well. I love the idea of things flying at my face, particularly when a movie tots itself as being 3D. I will argue that the time span between the last installment and this flick, I expected more advances in technology, I mean after “Avatar” and “Gravity” viewers have come to expect more and more on the special effects front.

The previous installment focused primarily on a bunch of male beefcakes with swords heading into action. That same formula isdelivered to the audience again, but elevated to appease the audience. Also, we have the introduction Eva Green as Artemisia and it’s a welcome change. Green brings an intense femininity and amount of rage to her character. It’s always interesting to see a woman in combat, as its something not depicted often in cinema so when it’s done right it works. And in my opinion she is a standout in the film that takes it to new heights.

With Butler out, the commander in chief in this installment is Sullivan Stapleton as Themistocles. The difference between Butler and Stapleton is that the audience fearedButler’s character a bit more in my opinion. It was almost a given, say the wrong thing to this guy and you could be kicked into a dungeon, with Stapleton, there is a bit more humility and hero-like presence to our protagonist.

Our villain similar to the first installment, he is more of a spectacle than a threat; yes, Xerxes has a massive army, but rarely does he actually get in on any of the action. He’s feared because of those who serve him, not because he’s a threatening presence. Not once did I feel, “Hey, be scared of this guy because of what he might do, but more so scared of those who follow him.” That equates a villain who is inferior to the hero which disrupts the overall impact of a movie, but thankfully Green amps that intensity for the audience.

“300: The Rise of an Empire” is one of those rare action flicks thatdeliver 10 times the action, the blood, the fight sequences and pure fun. It’s a must-see for those avid fans of the 3D aspect.

By LaDale Anderson