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300: Rise of an Empire is the stupidest fucking movie I’ve seen in a long time. The title gives away the ending. Even worse is that how it ends doesn’t matter. It’s like rooting for a winner in a bar brawl between a dude with an El Camino who laughs every time he says “Fix Or Repair Daily”, and some guy driving an F-150 with a sticker in the back window of Jesus pissing on the Chevy logo.
300: 2 is what a gladiator epic looks like when it’s cooked up by the same kind of fucking assholes who say “I can haz cheeseburger” and “You won the Internet” and think they are 1) providing thoughtful content and 2) being clever. These assholes have no idea how exhausted and dull their “ideas” are. They just regurgitate shit from their tiny, tiny world of the obvious.
It’s an orchestrated orgy of unimaginative yet grandiose visuals, as though Thomas Kincaid painted the sides of vans: moodily lit scenes full of big-titted women, pacing panthers and muscle-bound men in Speedos holding spears and swords. For some reason, there is a shitload of motes and embers drifting through the air of every scene. I think this is supposed to make the people who shelled out for the 3D glasses feel like they didn’t get screwed. “Wow, that detritus looks like it’s right in the theater with us.”
3D viewers shouldn’t feel like they were especially screwed. Everyone paying to see this has been. Although, I guess those drifting embers have a purpose. They burned the hair off the chests and arms of all those oiled-up Greek warriors.
300:2 is a sequel to the nearly-naked-men epic 300. In that, the titular number of Spartans beat back a legion of pissed-off Persians as their talent portion of the Mr. Universe competition. There is no room for chubby, smart guys in Greece. In this follow-up, the Persians go after the Athenians, who are just as Greek, but vaguer in number. Still, they’re seriously underdogs.
The Athenians are led by The Mystic Cleats (Sullivan Stapleton), a man who has the charisma and intensity of the guy who retrieves shopping carts at Costco, and the pecs to promote Bowflex at local flea markets. With him as their guide, the outnumbered warriors do a lot of lounging around in their panties and capes, posing with their eyes cast into the distance, as though starring in a Mervyn’s commercial for Fruit-of-the-Loom briefs.
The Mystic Cleats makes a lot of speeches. They’re made up of the sort of stupid motivational slogans a fat frat boy posts on his wall to convince himself not to quit Crossfit. You know, empty horseshit that sounds inspirational until you think about it. He says he’d rather “die standing than live on my knees,” so he’s not a Catholic. He also says he’d “rather die free than as a slave.” Well, who wouldn’t? I’m more interested in whether he’d rather die free or live like a slave.
I already know what I’d choose: live like a slave, because maybe your owner’s wife will be superhot and want to make out with you all the time. Then, to keep you from telling her asshole husband about the affair she gives you steak and booze, and a cushy job like bathroom attendant, and lets you have slaves of your own. That shit can’t happen if you die free.
When the hairless Athenian brigade isn’t lounging about, they cross swords and draw blood. So much fucking blood, ridiculously obscene amounts. Even the slightest knick causes spurts and gushers. Always in slow motion, always fetishized. It’s like these aren’t people but blood-filled piñatas. That, by the way, is not as popular at kids’ parties as you might think. The toddlers just end up slipping, falling and coating themselves head to toe.
On the Persian side, which we are told is the bad guys, there are two leaders. The first is some dude named Xerxes, king of The Cure fan club. He gets a long prologue about how he decided to be evil after his father was killed by The Mystical Cleats. By evil the movie means he got ripped, applied a buttload of gold skin toner, heavy eyeliner, mascara and lipstick, and a smattering of facial piercings. He also wrapped himself in bondage chains and strapped on a codpiece big enough to hold his cock, his balls and his lunch (a chicken drumstick he eats later with dramatic flair). Despite getting the movie started his vengeance being the reason for the war, Xerxes is relegated to irrelevance. He’s mostly absent from the story, probably alone in his room dancing to “Love Cats.”
Eva Greene, whose tits have been on spectacular display in previous movies, is Artemesia, a cold-hearted and calculating Persian naval commander. She plays the role in a style Tim Curry might consider “too much.” She scowls like a nun forced to view her own nakedness, and chews the scenery like a rat working itself out of a cardboard box. But how else can you play a character who kisses decapitated heads, gets a hard-on from thinking about killing her own soldiers, wears clothes made from human hair and is down-to-fuck her enemy in the least arousing and most laughable sex scene since I lost my virginity? Throughout 300:2, I wondered if she might have accidentally stumbled into the movie from some Rocky Horror Picture Show sing-along.
Regardless, Green’s is the only character given anything to do, even if it is a whole lot of what-the-fuck. And after 60 minutes of men touching men, she finally does unleash her tits. In that moment, I felt like I had only wasted $9.50, not $10.50.
There are many battles, mostly at sea. These are only interrupted by the previously mentioned awful humping when The Mystic Cleats and Artemesia meet to discuss a truce, but are quickly drawn to each other as quickly as a love-starved pusher and meth-addled whore. The humping, set to pounding drums, involves much shoving and anguished grunts, and considerably tossing about. It’s more like watching paraplegics play Twister than it is a sex scene.
Big, hard wooden ships thrust deep into each other, the men on board rhythmically push them forward. And with each collision, the ecstatic moans of breaking wood erupt. Blood, blood and more blood splashes in slo-mo as The Mystical Cleats outwits Artemesia until she says, “fuck this noise” and takes control. But by then, the Spartans, Thetans, Sigma Chi and the Tri-Delts have come to the aid of the underdogs.
The moral of 300:2 then is that you can completely fuck up, get overwhelmed and be doomed to kill the men under your command. But as long as someone comes along and saves your ass, you’re a hero. In other words, it’s other people’s fault I’m not a hero. I’ve done my part.
Some people say this movie is homoerotic. I think that’s an insult to gay men because it assumes they’re morons. Even the biggest horndog in the world has standards, and this bullshit is below them. One Finger for 300: 2.