300: Rise of an Empire (2014)


rise12016.67: 300: Rise of an Empire (Amazon VOD)

There’s no point really going on about the plot, such as it is. Fans of the original 300 will likely lap this up. Its really just 300 all over again, but just more. More gore. More action. And louder. Its everything modern sequels aspire to be. Just a pity it couldn’t have been not just ‘more’ but better (so true of so many sequels).

300 of course was something rather new, a hyper-stylised cinematic version of Frank Miller’s graphic novel. The sequel has lost that edge of originality, the sense of wonder at watching something ‘new’ that elevated the original experience. Like Sin City‘s sequel it rather suffers for it, losing itself in the technology, almost becoming a parody of the original. It doesn’t help that the film lacks the original’s charismatic lead (for obvious reasons) and even casting the great Eva Green doesn’t fill that gap. Green makes a great villain with some real presence onscreen, as one would expect, but she’s sorely wasted here with a vacuous, predictable plot and risible dialogue. Basically it’s all an effects reel, the plot moving viewers from one gory set-piece to the next. There isn’t really any character or drama or tension or any of that other boring stuff that so distracts teenage males from the serious stuff- you know, the shouting and fighting and gore and delirious slowmotion reveling in cartoon violence. I’m sure there are young males out there who think this is simply brilliant.

Which is rather scary, frankly. But maybe they will grow up.

Of course, its pretty, in a perverse sense considering how it glorifies explicit gore and violence. There are times when the visuals are quite arresting, but most of the time it has the look of a videogame and quite artificial and almost boring. Why is it that fifty cgi battleships are not enough, that you need a hundred or more, what makes it any more effective rather than boring overkill? What makes anyone think that seeing a cgi character getting a cgi arm chopped off in slow-motion in great gouts of cgi blood is anything exciting after the sixth or seventh time? Without genuine drama, or involving plot, its just random images, pretty as they might be. It doesn’t really make for a movie, not as I understand it.

Frankly, I felt sorry for the actors. What a soulless experience it must have been in-front of all that green screen voicing that awful dialogue. I can only imagine how horrible it must have seemed, particularly for the likes of Green and Lena Headey, who are frankly above all this. It says everything about where cinema and television are these days when you compare stuff like the 300 films to Game of Thrones.