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300: Rise of an Empire



A remix of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" plays over 300: Rise of an Empire's end credits - one last desperate attempt to rouse your meathead sympathies for this sequel to 300, Zack Snyder's Xerox adaptation of Frank Miller's formative comic book. By then, you've had 102 minutes of campy, oversaturated images of musclebound slo-mo Chippendale types slashing and ramming one another.

Listen, if that's all you want from two hours at the movies, Rise of an Empire delivers more oily pecs than an Exxon spill. It's like Magic Mike with arterial spray. Which means it's also nothing more than a feature-length retread of an equally bombastic, soulless cock opera. That end-credit song should just be Limp Bizkit's "Nookie." It will not get you off, even in IMAX.

Previously, on Waxed Beefcake: Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and the other brave

Spartans died. But Persian god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), who looks weirdly like Rocky from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, did not. So a backup group of three-quarters-naked Greeks, led by Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton), get in a bunch of boats and mount a seemingly suicidal attack against 10,000 Persians, also in boats.

But the Persian armada isn't led by Xerxes, who for some reason is ... elsewhere. Instead, it is led by his slay-happy sister, Artemisia (Casino Royale's Eva Green), a femdom nightmare who inevitably tries to seduce Themistokles. The sex - like the seas, like the movie - is rough.

The more explosive set pieces, especially those in which ships go boom, at least show effort. Then again, the film's makers don't do much more than frantically retrace the same territory Snyder did in his painstakingly lifeless film, this time investing the proceedings with worse pseudo-Homeric speeches and hyper-butch screwball banter ("Your barge and you are both very impressive").

So while you get exactly what you'd expect from 300: Rise of an Empire - gouts of CGI blood, jumping jacked dudes, Green bursting out of a too-tight dress - no one involved deserves anything but an epsilon for effort. Things look expensive and showy, in that moving-in-molasses way familiar to shamefaced fans of TV's Spartacus, but nothing here has been choreographed well. As no-stakes sequels go, Rise of an Empire is appreciably busy. But so was Fred Durst's band, and they didn't exactly deserve a prize, either.


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