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300: Rise of an Empire

A sequel to the most homoerotic mass-market action film since Batman and Robin, Rise of an Empire lacks the directorial hand of Zack Snyder, though it’s hard to imagine who might care. (Snyder, who scripted and produced, hired Israeli commercial director Noam Murro to do the rest.) Looking at essentially the same war from a different perspective (the sea battles), it’s every bit as over-the-top as its predecessor in terms of visuals. Bodies by the hundreds burst apart like blood-filled water balloons at the touch of a heroic sword, this time splattering the camera lens in 3D so you can enjoy every drop.

There’s almost no plot to get in the way of the non-stop gore, but what there is pits Athenian warrior Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and his troops against naval commandeer Artemesia (Eva Green), working for Persia after a youth of being raped by her Greek countrymen.

The film begins with a full reel of back-story narration by Queen Gorgo (Lena Hedey), some of it so ripe that you wonder if it’s headed into intentional self-parody. Here’s a description of the mystical spa ritual that Persian leader Xerxes undergoes: “He was stripped, cleansed, glamorous and smooth—he emerged a god.” Or how about Gorgo sneering at Themistokles as he inspects her troops as part of a failed mission to unite the feuding Greeks: “You’ve come a long way to stroke your cock while watching real men train.”

But then you get a scene of Themistokles rallying his men by bellowing, “Let it be shown that we chose to die on our feet rather than live on our knees,” and you recall that this is all based on a comic book by the Frank Miller, to whom parody is surely an alien concept. Guaranteed to be the number one film this week as long as teenage boys are able to find theaters that don’t enforce the R rating.

Watch the trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire

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