Beefcake-loaded 300 sequel Rise of an Empire holds out for a gyro 

The Empire Strikes Hack

The Empire Strikes Hack

During 300: Rise of an Empire's end credits, a remixed version of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" plays. You should expect some such desperate attempt to rouse your meathead sympathies from a sequel to 300, Zack Snyder's Xerox adaptation of Frank Miller's formative comic book. After all, Rise of an Empire is trying to get higher than a phalanx of kites on campy, oversaturated images of musclebound slo-mo Chippendales slashing and ramming each other for 102 minutes.

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. But that in no way makes it anything more than a feature-length retread of an equally bombastic, soulless cock opera. Its end-credit song could just as easily be Limp Bizkit's "Nookie." It will not get you off, not 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 buncha 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 (The Dreamers' Eva Green), a femdom nightmare who inevitably tries to screw/seduce Themistokles. The sex, like the seas, like the movie, is rough.

The best thing that can be said about Rise of an Empire is that its creators are trying. The more explosive set pieces, especially those where ships go boom and their crews of Flying Buffmen go unnngh, are almost thoughtful. Then again, the film's makers don't do much more than frantically retrace the same territory Snyder did in his painstakingly lifeless film, only now 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 — the film's makers don't deserve an Epsilon for effort. The setpieces look expensive, and showy in that moving-in-molasses way familiar to shamefaced fans of TV's Spartacus, but none of them are 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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