So this morning, after losing the requisite hour of sleep the time regulatory gods, my sweetie-wife and I went to the local cinema to take in a movie. My sweetie-wife wanted to see 300: Rise of an Empire, the sequel to 300, a highly stylized retelling of the Spartan stand against the Persian Empire at Thermopylae. Now if you have seen 300, based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, then you know it wildly took liberties with the history and the culture of the Spartans. 300: The Rise of an Empire is true to the Hollywood tradition of a sequel being less intelligent and less well made of a film that the one it is following.
In this movie the physical are more at odds with reality, the characters as even more two-dimensional, and the story is much thinner. This is truly a film that should be shown to aspiring writing, both screenplay and prose, as an example of what not to do.
I had forgotten my watch at home so I am unable to tell you when the story starts, as the movie is front loaded with what looks to be at first a prologue, but turns out to be long tedious minutes of exposition. I am not taking about 3 or 5 minutes, I am talking about 10, 20 maybe more. When the story does start, it often stalls again for more exposition. At one point they literally give you a flashback to the opening of the movie as though you may have forgotten what happened a mere 60 minutes earlier.
This movie also is a prime example of everything that is wrong with digital effect as they are used today. While digital artists can create anything that can be visualized, that does not mean that everything that can be visualized should be created. In this film there are many shots of ships at sea, moving up and over large waves, throwing spray, and the characters aboard these vessels at standing stock still. Often these are not, or at least do not appear to be, digital doubles for the actors, but rather the actors standing in from of a green screen, lacking any realistic motion at all. In one battle the seas are so heavy that vast waves more than thirty feet high loom and present themselves as oceanic hills. Of course in reality ships if the era would be in serious danger of foundering during a storm like that, but in this movie they maneuver and attack with ease.
There is the now standard, falling damage doesn’t apply, digital stunt work, and the impossible animals. (Seriously the lend-lease with Mordor and Persia must still be in effect because the Persian war elephant or more like Oliphants, looming larger an than real land animal.)
My sweetie-wife noted that several times throughout the presentation I suppressed laughter. I assure it was not due to the filmmakers intent to impart humor. In fact this is a fairly humorless movie, and that studious effort to be meaningful and utterly failing is one of the many sources of mirth.
This movie is MST3K ready, right out of the box.