Review – 300: Rise of an Empire

300: BATTLE OF ARTEMESIUMWhile Zack Snyder’s ‘300’ seemingly revolutionised the historical fantasy genre, with epic war scenes and graphic artistry at the fore, his most recent offering sees his cinematic wit running dry in this headbangingly mediocre sequel.

Indeed, the film was more painfully annoying than it was bad, featuring a dire backstory that only vaguely adds to what we already know while merely touching on aspects of the first film. Rather, Snyder unleashes a vapid cesspit of a story that offers more reasons to hoist your eyelids up with matchsticks than it does to continue watching.

The plot: Thermistokles, General of the Greek army, leads his fleet into battle with the vengeful Persians after murdering the father of mortal-turned-demigod and Persian leader, Xerxes (who in the first film defeated the 300 Spartan forces). On paper, such a plot actually sounds pretty good, giving the production team opportunities to interweave critical scenes of hee-hawing drama with bloody moments of head-slicing and merciless killing. But no, the latter takes effect in such a way that just makes us want to put our heads through the screen.

The so-called moments of deep-filled action were overrun by giant warships ramming into one another and Cook from Skins being Cook from Skins (seriously, when is he going to play another character?). Adding insult to injury, the one angry sex scene was met with a soundtrack that sounded like the music strategy games use in their online adverts, warped into a low-budget indie movie with cheap effects of thunder and lightning. Certainly, it was an embarrassment to its predecessor.

Though previously loved and cherished as Cersei Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones, Lena  Headey’s soul-sucking voice-over coupled with her average performance as the mourning (And moaning) wife of Leonidas was doubly unimpressive, boring us all into temporary paralysis.

Needless to say, this flick isn’t without scarce moments of passable joyousness. The fight scenes were well choreographed and aptly heightened the much-needed tension that lost itself somewhere in the bottomless ocean both armies fought on. Equally, what seemed like a bomb of CGI that had gone off by mistake actually worked pretty well on screen, convincing the viewer that this film wasn’t all torment and tedium.

But, mostly, 300: Rise of an Empire gave me 300 new reasons to never watch this film again. A cry for help and a so-so follow-up to a respectable fantasy epic, this film can gain only the success through its predecessor.