300: Rise of an Empire

“I had a little bit of a personal crisis at the end of the week. I was checking movie times, trying to figure out my options for Grand Budapest Hotel, when I discovered something. It wasn’t playing in Boston until next weekend. Okay, so fall back movie? There was none. I panicked. My coworkers laughed at me in my distraught state as I was reading thru the list of options “”Seen it. Seen it. Have it. Seen it. Oh God no. Seen it. Ugggh. Seen it. Have it….”” But if I didn’t go to the movies, not only would it kill my streak of one per week for a while (Foursquare stopped counting, which means I’m either far from my previous record or they don’t care anymore) but it would mean that I would likely not leave the apt for the entire weekend. NOOOOOO!!! Okay I could go to church on Sunday, but what about Saturday? The longer day of the weekend. I needed a movie.

After weighing the options, 300: Rise of an Empire just beat out rewatching Lego Movie which beat out Mr Peabody and Sherman. I loved the original 300 when it came out, but to me, the thought of a sequel (or actually more of a sidequel…we’ll get to that) seemed unnecessary. I thought it’d be one of those overblown under plotted attempts at capitalizing on previous success, that would either leave me clawing my eyes out of boredom and/or frustration or just falling asleep in the auditorium. But you know how it is with addiction. You can’t reason with it, and just have to feed it sometimes.

I don’t know if I’d go so far as saying I’m glad I saw this movie (I’m pretty sure my life would not have felt empty without this film specifically) but it was certainly the right call. While it may have been an expectations game, I did enjoy this far more than I expected to.

I was surprised at how well it worked as a companion piece to 300. Again, I thought it was going to be a forced story only somewhat tied in, but in fact it ties in better than a lot of other follow ups. The timeline was a bit confusing at first, and it took me a bit to figure out. The fact that it did jump around in its initial scenes (flashfowarding towards the end and then coming back) didn’t help. Sans the intro, the timeline was basically history setting up the war and events leading to the Spartans’ battle in 300, what was going on in other parts of Greece at the time, and the aftermath of the 300’s stand and the end of the war. In other words, 300 was just a small piece of what was going on. Rise of an Empire (sorry, but that’s kind of a lame title) gave a more full picture.

I did get lost a bit in the history. Basically anything that Lena Headey was narrating at the beginning, I couldn’t grasp too well. So that was a point against the film. The other was that some of the bigger battles were a bit too overdone. They kept the style of 300, which I loved, but moderation is a good thing. Keep the fight going too long on screen and your audience gets bored.

Cancelling out those two negatives, I do have two things strongly in the plus column. The first was that much of the action was at sea. I really liked the navy tactics and felt those battles were unique. Some of the related effects, with the graphic novel feel, were incredible. Yes, as I said, they may have gone on a bit long at times, but given that it was something new and different, I could forgive that a bit more.

The more enthusiastic check in the plus column is for Eva Green as Artemisia. Holy \m/ balls I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more badass and beautiful babe. This chick commanded the entire Persian navy. As she was described in the film (I think I got this about right) “”Her ruthlessness was matched only by her beauty. Her beauty was only matched by her devotion to her king.”” Oh my God, never have I wanted to be somebody else more badly than I wanted to be her. Girl had brains, outsmarting and manipulating all the men folk. Girl could kick butt, killing left and right with a sword in each hand. Girl looked good. I did find it a lil silly that she seemed to have an endless supply of sexy black dresses on board her ship, but damn I wanted to wear every one of those. And I usually don’t want to wear dresses. Why have I not known about this character before, if she was a part of ancient history? While the movie may not technically pass the Bechdel test, her character does a lot to advance women in film. I’m still in awe and just can’t find the right words to fully express how incredible her character is.

Now I’m getting excited again and rethinking the original rating I’d landed on. I think I’ll have to stick with it, given the weak start and how much of it is a blur of blah in my memory. Any moment that Green’s Artemisia was on screen was a great one, but the truth was this was supposed to be about Themistokles. He may have been as great as Leonidas, but he wasn’t as memorable.

300: Rise of an Empire – \m/ \m/ \n

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