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kinopoisk.ruSo for those of you who haven’t read the classics, 300: Rise of an Empire tells the following story:

Greek general Themistokles leads the charge against invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes and Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

Hold on a minute, what’s this “mortal-turned-god” thing? Yes, check your critical faculty and any knowledge of actual ancient history at the door, this is Greeks v Persians Snyder-style.

300:RoaE (for such it shall be known) is a sequel prequel sequel to 300, and both are based on graphic novels by Frank Miller. I must admit I really enjoyed the original, it was good fun with lots of oiled pecs on display (if you like that sort of thing ) and lots of shouting especially by surprisingly Scottish sounding King Leonidas, all pulled together by Zack Snyder.

This time around we still have lots of shouting but this time by surprisingly Australian sounding Themistocles and though we still have lots of pecs on display (though not as oiled as before  – that was clearly a Spartan thing, we’re talking Athenians here) we no longer have Zack Snyder (which shows) but we do have Queen Gorgo (sporting the best name ever) avenging the death of her husband, and equally vengeful Artemisia, Greek but in command of the Persian navy because she does not like other Greeks at all, given the rape and murder of her family and her own abuse at the hands of her countryman.  We know all this about Artemisia not because she tells us but because we see it in lovingly specific flashback.

So before I get into the detail it is worth saying that I didn’t think this was awful, just not as good as it could have been and much less fun than its predecessor.  But the detail, ooh, well:

  • I loved Artemisia, she had a good line in glowering and being horrible to the men around her while demonstrating just how so much better she was than them. She also had a fabulous line in maxi-length fighting frocks and I’m sure at one point I saw a hint of early Persian fishnets.
  • Themistocles was quite good, quite shouty in a supposed-to-be-inspiring way but most specially (as Mark Kermode said on the radio so can’t take credit for this), he has a fabulous Austin Powers moment with a strategically placed garment just after he has done the dirty with a lady character on a rather uncomfortable looking table map. Said lady is of course topless. Which leads me to….
  • There are an awful lot of breasts on show. Now people who know me are aware (I hope) that I am not at all prudish, but I find that lazy, unnecessary nudity gets on my ti really annoys me and there’s quite a bit of that here. Pretending to be grown up but really all about getting them out for the lads.
  • Gorgo is Cersei. Sorry, but she is. She also had a lovely range of fighting evening gowns. Those are evening gowns for fighting in btw, not evening gowns which fight each other, though I would pay to watch that film.
  • Basil Exposition is alive and well and explaining Greek history (as modified) to the masses.
  • Xerxes is just silly, honestly.
  • *SPOILER* – she was always going to get done in by the Athenian equivalent of a shot above the bustle.

300-RoaE is a handsome looking film but lacked any lightness of touch, and was in many ways a bunch of set pieces strung together without a proper narrative drive and wasn’t even clear who it was rooting for. I mean, we all know who we were supposed to be cheering on, but I for one was hoping Artemisia would sort them all out. If we can make Xerxes an 8ft bald and shiny god-king with an impressive codpiece, then surely we can tinker with the outcome of the Battle of Salamis?

So, glad I saw it but would recommend waiting for it to come on TV if you are at all curious. And my girl-crush on Eva Green has been reinforced. Roll on Penny Dreadful.