Film review: The 300 sequel is an epic blood bath

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The Gods must be bloodthirsty in 300: Rise of an Empire, the sequel to the fantasy action thriller 300. The Gods must be bloodthirsty in 300: Rise of an Empire, the sequel to the fantasy action thriller 300.

Is there any way to appropriately review 300: Rise of an Empire? This is a movie that has—whether it knows it or not—no ideology or purpose or ambition to be anything but a blood-and-guts spectacle on a massive scale. In fact, the blood and guts are so prevalent and unsparing they grow monotonous.

Sure, there are serious voiceovers uttered by Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) that hint at higher thinking—the power of a people and the rules of nation-states and uniting against a common enemy and blah blah—but those voiceovers become as monotonous as the action, especially when they interrupt the climactic swordfight (which, by the way, is monotonous).

At least 300: Rise of an Empire’s predecessor, 300 (which can be thanked or blamed for making Gerard Butler a household name), had visuals we’d never seen before. If nothing else, it provided visceral thrills simply because it looked spiffy.

But 300: Rise of an Empire is muddled, stupid and pointless. It tells the story of Persian God-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his desire to rule Greece by having the Persian navy transport soldiers to Greek shores who then kill the hell out of every man, woman, and child.

The Persians are led by a disaffected Greek, Artemisia (Eva Green), who has great reasons for wanting to destroy her home country. She was sold into slavery at a young age and rescued by a Persian who taught her to fight. She gained the favor of the Persian king, and with his son (that’s Xerxes) is going to wreak havoc.

I think. I mean, none of that matters. This movie is just an exercise in bloodletting. At least we’re living in a time when blood can be recreated with computers because the cleanup on set would have taken longer than shooting the battle scenes had the filmmakers used practical stage blood.

Imagine doing a take in which four soldiers are beheaded, gored, a femoral artery is severed and an arm sliced off at the elbow. The amount of vital fluids spilled in each battle scene must be more than several hundred industrial-sized bucket loads. The makeup effects would have cost more than the talent they were tasked to make up.

One Greek who manages to stay fully limbed is Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), the leader of this six pack-having crew of motley swordsmen. Question: Why does a guy who lives his life at war keep taking off his helmet when he sees his greatest enemy across the battlefield?

Why don’t these men wear armor? Mythology and history be damned, put on some armor! It makes a sword to the chest easier to deflect. But whatever. It’s hard to care much about any of it when the filmmakers are more interested in stunts that defy the laws of physics and creating a blood spatter pattern that ends up on the camera lens. If that’s your idea of a great flick, please enjoy. If not, avoid it. Or if you must go, count how many times the Greeks tell each other they’re Greek and wait for the odd remix of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” during the closing credits.

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