‘300’ fails to hit the mark of 1st


Kyle Arensdorf

By Kyle Arensdorf

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Like the first installment in this series, “300: Rise of an Empire,” is another not-so-graceful stroll through blood-soaked war scenes and fringe gore-porn. But unlike the first, this film lacked the heart and purpose that made the first movie somewhat palatable.

“300: Rise of an Empire” follows Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) as he leads his legion of warriors against the navy of the god-king, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Hell-bent on avenging his father’s death at the hands of Themistocles, Xerxes, with the help of his sister and commanding naval officer Artemisia (Eva Green), gives the order to take down every nation in their path. “For glory’s sake … war!” Xerxes said in front of all of Persia.

I saw this film in 3D (by accident), knowing full well that watching anything in 3D after the masterpiece that was “Gravity” was going to be a disappointment. And I was reminded why 3D films gained such a negative stigma in the first place.

Searching for an excuse to incorporate some sort of cinematic 3D element in hopes of boosting ticket sales is a bad decision to make. Splattering blood onto the screen for a pseudo-realistic effect is even worse.

Zack Snyder, who wrote and directed the first film, but only wrote the second, would have been a more competent director than Noam Murro. Synder could have worked to instill the same sort of heart that he did in the first.

Perhaps he would have made the decision to avoid the 3D direction altogether.

But what made the original “300” bearable was King Leonidas’ (Gerard Butler) passion in fighting for something that was truly in jeopardy: their freedom.

Although Themistocles is fighting for his freedom as well, that end is unable to play out in the allotted time of 102 minutes.

This is a film that would have benefitted from an extra 30 minutes to explore the back story of Themistocles. Then he might have been a character audiences want to root for.

The 3D mistake and the time mistake notwithstanding, “300: Rise of an Empire” is respectable from a cinematic standpoint, and at times the visuals are quite engaging.

Some women might enjoy this film more than they might have enjoyed the first — and not for the obvious reason of muscled guys wearing nothing but capes. Two of the most powerful female characters you’ll see all year are featured as leads.

“300: Rise of an Empire” is a good time if you’re looking to turn off your brain for a little under two hours and watch a bad film play out in an entertaining way.

And if you’ve ever wanted to see a woman lock lips with a severed head, you’ve found your film.