Film Review: ‘300: Rise of an Empire’ [City Screen, York]

By March 13, 2014 August 24th, 2016 Film, Reviews

Flashy, nonsensical, unintelligent cinema is the bane of any film critic and the likes of Bay and Zack Snyder revel in mass producing it. While Snyder’s sensibility and love for comic books means that his failures are a little more endearing, it’s hard to forgive him when he makes things so downright annoying and aggressively stupid as ‘300’. Alas, money talks and the film’s success has led to this horribly misconstrued sequel that still has Snyder clinging to its coattails as a writer, but happily for him not as director.

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That honour goes to Noam Murro, who decides to trump Snyder by making everything even more intolerable than it was before. Where the first was unbearably obsessed with its lurid, violent sensibility to a degree where brain cells are actively destroyed, Murro’s film assumes you’re already brain cell deficient and instead attempts to fill your head with a turgid mass of growling, incoherent dialogue and slow-motion so mundane it threatens to put you to sleep every few seconds it is in use. One assumes that the film is actually about fifty minutes long, slowed down to look like it’s feature length and giving us the illusion that we’re watching a fully fleshed out film when in reality it’s merely a burned out husk of one. Indeed, this explanation is a lot more appealing than the more obvious one that Murro is simply attempting to cash in on the first’s success by amplifying everything and thus making it twice as excruciatingly tedious.

Where we once had perpetually angry Scotsman Gerard Butler (what I would give for Malcolm Tucker to grace this film instead) we now have the much more exciting Sullivan Stapleton, but he struggles to enliven a leaden script and eventually succumbs to the mire, uttering the most contrived rousing speeches anyone is likely to hear, lamenting that his merry posse of Greeks are but mere farm hands while they happily flex their pectoral muscles in a rousing show of agreement. Sadly, these ridiculous moments don’t come often enough for the incandescent stupor to be broken on any sort of a regular basis, and the rest of the film’s runtime essentially feels like you’re being shown footage from a canned video game ridiculed for its lack of originality and monotonous dialogue of the sort that even Eva Green cannot save with one of her most extravagant performances as the villainous, unhinged Artemisia.

‘300: Rise of an Empire’ was doomed from the moment we learned its nonsensical title and shows that sequels really can drag something that is already pretty damn awful down further in to the abyss. Experiences this boring should be saved for school detentions and slow midweek sick days, and it won’t be long before this film graces the £2 bargain bucket in your nearest supermarket, such is its failure to provide anything engaging whatsoever. Just don’t bother unless you like oily chests enough to marvel at them for two hours. In which case, good luck to you.


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