Monday, October 5, 2015

300: Rise of an Empire

Year 7, Day 278 - 10/5/15 - Movie #2,170

BEFORE:  Two days to go until New York Comic-Con (for me, it starts on Wednesday with the load-in, not Thursday) and I've started to have the stress dreams.  Like I had a dream a couple nights ago that I got a job on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and I had an office on the 6th floor of their building, but I couldn't seem to get to the 6th floor.  The elevator wouldn't stop on that floor, so I went to the stairwell and the stairs were gone, it was an empty stairwell - how is that even possible?  Then I passed by the green room and saw Jon Bon Jovi in it, so I had to step outside and text my wife that I just saw Jon Bon Jovi, and I never really got to my desk, which was very frustrating.  This is really a variation of my standard Comic-Con dream, where I'm wandering through a convention center and I can't find my booth.  

Then last night I had a dream I was in a production of "Les Miserables" that starred Leonardo DiCaprio (for some reason) and someone was murdering the performers, and it might have been Leo, because he was really drunk and blacking out from time to time, so maybe he was killing them while blacked out, or perhaps someone was framing him for the murders, I couldn't tell.  But the killings were all pretty violent.  I must be more stressed out than I care to admit.

Rodrigo Santoro carries over from "Rio 2", he voiced the male bird scientist Tulio in that film, and he played Persian leader Xerxes in "300" and this sequel.  

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

FOLLOW-UP TO: "300" (Movie #300)

AFTER: Sure, it might seem weird to go from a CGI children's animated film to a very violent adult film about Greek soldiers - but that's where my movie-watching process is at these days.  If I follow the connections provided by themes, then I lose the actor connections.  But if I follow the actor linking, then my subject matter careens all over the place.

Or, does it?  "Rio 2" featured a turf war between the blue macaws and the scarlet macaws.  It was like a war between races of birds (though it looked a lot like an aerial soccer game) and tonight's film features a similar turf war between the Greeks and Persians.  There's also a red army (Spartans) and a blue army (Athenians), but they happen to be fighting on the same side here.  

The film starts shortly after the first "300" film leaves off, when the 300 Spartans faced off against the Persians - apparently it did not go well, because Queen Gorgo is talking to her troops about the sacrifice that the 300 made, and then she tells a story, so we snap back to the Battle of Marathon, 10 years before, where this whole rivalry with the Persians started.  That battle went a little better for the Greeks, with Themistokles taking out King Darius, but also setting up his son Xerxes to come back for revenge with a whole load of ships.  The story stays with Themistokles and his men until it catches up with the original film - one assumes that it runs parallel with the last stand of the Spartans for a while.  

But when does the Queen STOP telling the story?  There's an opening narration that leads into the flashback, but when the flashback catches up with the present (not our present, the present of the past, the present of the opening sequence) we should come out of the flashback, but we never do.  Was there a shot missing, with the Queen telling her troops "The Athenians should be here shortly to help us in our battle."  Maybe I'm not really understanding how this timeline thing works.  Once you start jumping around, it's hard to make any sense of it all - there are even flashbacks within the main flashback, which shouldn't be possible.  

Still, I found this slightly easier to follow than the first "300" film, but it similarly suffered from "too many characters" syndrome".  And if this was like a "10" in the level of violence, there's simply no reason why it couldn't have been at level "8" instead.  But maybe I'm supposed to take solace in the fact that I wasn't born back then, and I don't have to get stabbed or decapitated as part of the Greek army - I only have to fight the battle of Comic-Con, again and again.  

Also starring Sullivan Stapleton (last seen in "Gangster Squad"), Eva Green (last seen in "Dark Shadows"), Lena Headey (last seen in "Dredd"), Hans Matheson (last seen in "Les Miserables (1998)"), Callan Mulvey (last seen in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"), David Wenham (last seen in "Moulin Rouge!"), Jack O'Connell, Andrew Tiernan (last seen in "The Pianist"), Igal Naor (last seen in "Green Zone"), Andrew Pleavin, Peter Mensah (last seen in "Hidalgo")

RATING: 6 out of 10 flaming arrows

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