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By Brock Wilbur · March 9, 2014
The sequel to Zack Snyder's 2006 comic book movie about blood and abs is a movie you can skip. On the most basic level, you can watch it in your head right now. Close your eyes, imagine blood on abs, and we're all done here.
300 2: The Threehundreding is one of the least pleasant cinematic experiences I have endured. A man wandered into our theater, kicked me, and left. This was the best part of my time with director Noam Murro's disaster. Rise of an Empire is a 7th grader's history essay that he mostly made-up, covered in Axe body spray and brought to life by the creative team behind Spike TV. It is a nonsensical 102-minute montage drenched in an embarrassment of testosterone, which hopes a breakneck pace will prevent you from asking questions, namely "What am I doing with my life?"
Set before, during, and after the events of the first film (boy, we're off to a great start), RoaE explains the origins of the god-king Xerxes at the hands of a manipulative sister (Eva Green) who leads his army on a mission of revenge against the Athenian protagonist (Sullivan Stapleton). To explain any other character names or motivations would require me to ask the internet, because I have literally no idea. People are introduced, people die, cities fall, battles are fought across time, and none of it has weight or meaning. The film cuts from one battle to another, occasionally tossing in exposition over the top of the 3D murder sequences or depending on rousing speeches (of which there are many) where the warriors must be reminded of why they are fighting or who they are fighting as if they are as adrift as the audience.
People explode into blood. I don't know how else to say this. Each man in the film is one paper-cut away from erupting into a gravity resistant blob of jelly that sprays into space, and often with a purplish hue that drives the film even further into 80s animation territory. There are few choices made in RoaE but each one seems more distractingly awful than the last.
Lena Headey reprises her role from the original, yawning her way through scenes that were clearly intended for Gerard Butler, who had the good sense to stay far away from this production. The only memorable performance is Eva Green, who is allowed to do her Eva Greeniest mustache twirling and crazy eyes and one liners, which I can embarrassingly watch all day. Unfortunately, this builds towards the most heinous, laughably bad sex scene that this decade is likely to churn out. I'm serious. It's one for the history books, and perhaps the only thing this film will be remembered for.
300: Rise of an Empire is less a film and more of a collection of video game cut scenes. It is devoid of meaning, emotion, or reasons to be viewed. Avoid.