Say what you will about Zack Snyder’s ultraviolent, exceedingly homoerotic 2006 film 300
, but the comic-book adaptation delivered exactly what it promised: It was big and dumb, with visual verve of unprecedented elegance (plus a lot of shouting). Eight years later, nobody was exactly clamoring for a sequel to a film that saw its main characters beheaded, yet here we have Noam Murro’s 300: Rise of an Empire
, a film that expands the battlefield to the ocean but comes off as a dull, lifeless Xerox of the original. Eschewing most of the story in favor of non-stop carnage (which is probably the right call), Rise of an Empire
pits Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) against the Persian navy, led by the bloodthirsty and libidinous Artemisia (Eva Green). What unfolds is a cacophony of severed limbs, exploding bodies and CGI boats that look like they were pulled from an outdated 300
video game. The special effects are the biggest stars of the series, and yet nothing here manages to transport the viewer into the brutal wonderland Snyder concocted. Computer-animated blood spurts look like Play-Doh, the crashing waves of the ocean like something rendered for the GameCube. Eva Green, snarling and heaving, lends life to her scenes, but it’s like she’s in a different movie. For a film about half-naked dudes butchering each other for 100 minutes, Rise of an Empire
is torturously lifeless.