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300: Rise Of An Empire

300: BATTLE OF ARTEMESIUMDirected Noam Murro
Starring  Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey

That time has come once again to prove that oiled up nipples, a well defined sixpack and a leather posing pouch are the most effective armour in the ancient world as a horde of male strippers leap across the screen in 300 Rise Of An Empire.

This sequel follows the Athenian leader Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) as he attempts to unite the collection of city states that form Greece into a nation capable of resisting the advances of the Persian God-King, Xerxes. At its centre lie two major naval engagements: the Battle of Artemisium (fought concurrently with Themopylae) and the epic Battle of Salamis. Both see Themisokles match wits with the wily commander of Persian navy, Artemisia (Eva Green).

Like it’s predecessor, 300: Rise Of An Empire is again based on a comic by Frank Miller (although at this time it is still unreleased). This means that the same wonky physics and distorted history of the first are in play here, as well as the beautiful visuals and  the stunning violence.

Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom) approaches his role with all the gravitas of a high school Shakespeare performance. As such he seems understated in comparison to the previous completely over the top Gerald Butler as King Leonidas. Yet, in a film that does have many marked similarities with its predecessor, this is a needed difference. Stapleton does manage to do well in the physical aspects of his role and does bring a marked intensity to his fight sequences. Eva Green seems to be relishing the role of the villainous Artemisia and approaches it with great gusto, taking it to the heady heights of a Bond villain (thoroughly appropriate for a former Bond girl). Her character is an impressive foil for Themistokles, both on the battlefield and in the bedroom (there is a ridiculous hate-fuck scene that seems purely there to avoid the jibes of homoeroticism that 300 received).

Despite some worrying messages (such as its portrayal of the East as a decadent, degenerate other) it is so easy to get lost in ‘the wave of hero’s blood’ and ride along with the ludicrous spectacle of this movie. Noam Murro almost perfectly copies Zack Snyder’s hyper-stylised world, bringing us the feel of a comic book come to life. The action sequences are impressive and feel visceral despite the large quantities of CG blood being sprayed about the screen.

To state the blatantly obvious, this is not a cerebral movie. Instead it is a rollercoaster ride of cheap CG thrills and spills. It is definitely more of the same, but with enough difference and novelty to not just be 300 on a boat. It might not be Sparta this time around but it is definitely the same brand of madness.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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