Never thought I’d be saying this, but man, I missed Gerard Butler.
Many years before King Leonidas decided that he wanted to get 300 of his Spartan brothers together and wage war against those sexy-as-‘eff Persians, a young, Athenian warrior known as Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) threw a spear in the middle of a long-winding battle, piercing the Persian King Darius’ heart. It’s a simple, honorable death in the heat of the battle, but it also happens to leave Darius’ two children, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and Artemisia (Eva Green), alone, in-despair, and also feeling the wrath of revenge. Several years later, they get what they want when Themistocles and Artemisia’s armies go head-to-head with one another in a battle that will decide the fate of many soldiers. But, at the heart of this bloody, gruesome fight to the death, are Artemisia’s wants, needs and pleads for being accepted as the leader that she is, mainly by her own flesh-and-blood, her brother Xerxes. However, as we all know, he’s got a bit more on his plate than he could possibly chew for the time being.
Though it sure as hell won’t be winning be registered into the National Library of Congress any time soon, the original, Zack Snyder-helmed 300 was a typical “guys movie”; meaning, a movie made for dudes, by dudes, who love all sorts of blood, gore, swords, boobs, spears, shields, slow-motion, more blood, more gore, half-naked men, six-pack abs, Spartans, inspiring speeches, dudes getting kicked down deadly holes, and so on and so forth. I could have gone, and on, and on, but I think you get the drift.
The movie was dumb, innate, cheesy, overtly-misogynistic and loved to mess around with history as much as it could possibly get away with, but you know what? It’s fun, and will always continue to be fun no matter how many beers I drink, or happy-pills I take. Then again, I think whenever you drink more beers, or take some sort of “happy-pills”, anything gets a bit better.
But I digress.
What I am mainly trying to say here is that since the first movie was pretty much just all show, but no substance, the sequel itself doesn’t really have to do much except just deliver on the same grounds. It has to give us plenty of dudes getting their heads chopped-off; slow-motion shots that only add to the intensity of a single move or action; naked women (as much, or as little as possible, it doesn’t really matter); and also, give us the general idea that it doesn’t matter how many half-naked, ripped-like-kegs guys we have walking around, congratulating each other and/or being all up in one another’s personal-space, that the homoerotic feelings never go to be anything more but just “feelings”. Maybe I sound a bit like a homophobe (I assure you, I am not), but trust me, I know dudes the way I should know dudes, and they do not want to see guys all up in each other’s business, unless it’s to get at his neck about talking to his girl, or to pick a brawl. Either way, masculine, angry and energetic men just don’t want to see that. Nothing wrong with them, it’s just how they function.
But I digress.
What I am really trying to get at here is that director Noam Murro doesn’t really do much different to differentiate his style, from Snyder’s, but he doesn’t really have to in order to succeed. All that he had to do was give us enough action, blood, boobs and inspirational-speeches to make the hour-and-a-half feel like the best times of our lives, and that’s exactly what he does. And although, yes, it is incredibly stupid and not nearly as memorable as what Snyder may have done with the lean, mean material he had way back in 2007, it’s still fun. Take that from one guy to another, would ya?!?!
However though, the fact that this is a sequel to Snyder’s movie, it still can’t seem to get past the fact that it’s just not nearly as good, or as memorable as the first one will be, and still is to this day. For instance, with Leonidas, and most of what Gerard Butler was able to do with his muscle-bound charm, we had a true, bonafide and charismatic leader that yes, was something perfectly written for the movies, but was also the same kind of character you could easily get behind. He beats all of the right ass, he kicks dudes down holes (I know, I’ll never stop mentioning that, even until the day I die), he knows exactly what to do in the right situation, he bangs his lady like she needs to be banged before he goes away and best of all, he knows how to lead his troops and give them the speech they need to hear before going into battle, 300 vs. some-odd thousand. So basically, he’s exactly the type of bad-ass every dude on the face of the planet Earth wants to be, but being that he is from a movie and nowhere near all that realistic to begin with, these same dudes can only just sit around, and wait for the day to come.
That’s why, when you have somebody like Themistocles, you can’t help but compare him to Leonidas. Nor can’t you help but compare Sullivan Stapleton to Gerard Butler, in which case, as much as it may pain me to say, the later takes victory. It isn’t that Stapleton is a bad actor or anything, it’s just so obvious that what it is that the movie is doing, is trying to give us somebody along the same lines as Leonidas, although it definitely won’t happen since there isn’t just one and only King Leonidas, but there is just one and only Gerard Butler (and thank heavens for that).
Therefore, watching the rest of this movie and yeah, I guess, accepting it for what it is and not what it’s following, I couldn’t help but compare the two and realize that this a pretty useless sequel, that’s only needed to be seen for those blood-thirsty, gore-seeking, steroid-injected guys out there who have finally gotten a pass from their lady-friends for the weekend to get out to the movies with their guy-pals. Heck, maybe even a little bit of a pre-game before hand would do you even better? I don’t know. Just suggestions, guys! Trying to help my fellow brothers out!
But even if you men out there do get a chance to see this during the weekend, or whenever the hell you might see it, do know that you’re still going to get plenty of lady-action, that isn’t from either from the lady in your life, nor is it going to be between two gals in this movie. Nope, it’s all from Eva Green as the cruel, mean and nasty-as-hell Artemisia, the type of woman that most dudes fantasize about being with, but would never, not even in a million years, actually want to spend a night with, had they been given the chance to in real life. The whole story surrounding Artemisia is that she’s not just the brains behind the operation of Xerxes and the Persian army that he leads, but she’s also the brawn as well, by doing most of his dirty work in some very sadistic, brutal ways. However, that’s what makes her such an awesome villain, albeit, quite a bad-ass one that allows Green to chew-up the scenery as much as one human can possibly devour scenery, without ever seeming like she is in on the joke. Nope, she is drop-dead serious about this material and she absolutely goes to town with it, even making great use of a sex-battle sequence.
Yup, you heard me right, people: There is in fact a “sex-battle scene” and, for better and possibly for worse, it’s the best, most memorable scene of the whole entire flick. Dammit! Where’s Leonidas where you needed him?!?! Oh, wait. Never mind. Damn you, mythology!
Consensus: For all of its over-the-top proceedings that consist of blood, gore, violence, nudity, and more blood, 300: Rise of an Empire, there’s still an ounce of fun to be had, if you only know what to expect from the original, and even then though, you may be a bit disappointed. Remember what I said, boys: Get drunk beforehand, call up a cab, get your tickets, and enjoy the show! Even if you won’t be able to remember it come morning.
6 / 10 = Rental!!