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ZACK SNYDER PRODUCES 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

year: 2014 rating: **
First off, let’s get the complicated names out of the way – despite the franchise title being 300, there are really only three main characters worth mentioning…

Themistokles is a Greek warrior that catches the attention of evil Persian instigator, Artemisia, who has turned a mortal man into a god named Xerxes.

She manipulates her sinister creation like a puppet, and literally puts words into his mouth… the most important being “War” after which, like in the first venture, the immense Persian army sets off to destroy the scant underdogs – which should be a simple enough task, right?

Instead of a land ravaging epic, these more concise battles take place almost entirely at sea: The best parts have slender allied boats taking down the larger Persian ships with creative strategies, including sharpened, steely mastheads acting as oceanic Ben Hur chariots. And between the visually stunning bouts are long, dragging periods of dialogue on either side – imagine if boxing commentators spoke longer than the actual rounds.

The chemistry between Themistokles and Artemisia is intense and eventually, sexual… Meanwhile, our edgy hero manages to dart back and forth behind enemy lines with such ease, the scene-stealing lady loses potential as a formidable villain, providing the good guys too much leeway, making their once laborious plight a fairly easy one.

And right when it seems the sword-splitting, blood-splattering action is just taking off, 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE begins winding down: Too bad there’s more flesh being massacred than there are fleshed-out characters to either root for, or against.
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