Wednesday, 12 March 2014

300: Rise of an Empire; presented in StupidVision

Well, Imax, but they ought to call it StupidVision, because paying €5 extra for an Imax version of something as idiotic as 300: Rise of an Empire should come with a free tattoo to tell everyone you need help with long words. Imax even has a bombastic intro for itself, about how it’s going to engage and impact you, and I started to worry that we’d selected ourselves for processing into Soylent Green, on the perfectly reasonable basis that society wasn’t going to miss anyone stupid enough to be in this cinema for this movie.

Things in 300:RoE which have no basis in historical fact; everything. Athenians did not fight in skirmish order with swords. People don’t take their helmets off in the middle of sword fights. You can’t hide a horse in a trireme, and even if you could, you can’t gallop it OFF a trireme and into combat, not that Athens had much of a cavalry arm in the first place. Xerxes was not nine feet tall. Persians didn’t use crude oil in warfare. And most importantly of all, ancient Persia did not have fishnet stockings, so Eva Green shouldn’t have been wearing them in the final sword battle, and for that matter, if they’d been doing the sword battle properly, I wouldn’t have been bored enough to notice she was wearing fishnets.

Things which are kind of cool; Il Doctore from Spartacus has a completely wordless bit part and classes things up considerably while simultaneously reminding you that Starz made a much better loincloths and gore show for about the same money as 300:RoE spent on Eva Green’s fishnets. Eva Green, fishnets or not, is kind of awesome despite everything. Somehow she even makes the terrible dialogue sound less terrible, which is more than anyone else can say. Coming in in second place is Lena Headey, who can’t save the dialogue but at least sounds cool as she slogs through it. Joint eleventy millionth place is held by all the other actors, who divide their time between flexing, jumping and growling out he-man platitudes as if they’re reading from crayoned cue cards that they’re having to squint to focus on. In the challenging role of Testikles, sorry, Themistokles, Sullivan Stapleton has more dialogue than the rest of the men put together and gives it all the power and passion I used to put into my efforts at conversational German.

Stuff that only makes sense in Zack Snyder world; “We can’t beat their tactic of sailing in circles!” wail the Persian admirals, whose ships work best when they ram the sharpened bows into the sides of their opponents ships, while their opponents sail in circles showing them nothing but their sides. Eva Green starts chucking them off the sides of their ships with lead water wings, reasonably enough. I couldn’t understand why the naval battles were taking place during an unprecedented level of tsunami activity in the Aegean, but then we got a night scene where the moon filled the entire horizon, so I realised that in Snyder times, the moon was so close to the earth that tides were a couple of minutes apart and three hundred feet high, so of course the waves were all over the place.

Things which were senselessly stolen from better terrible movies; Testikles' naval cavalry charge was done better in The Lone Ranger, leading to perhaps the first ever use of the phrase “done better in The Lone Ranger” so 300:RoE has that going for it. Also nicked; men running around in just their underpants and no armour with cloaks billowing in the wind; Original 300, which is terrible, but better terrible than this was. Though in an effort to make you feel like you were getting something new and different rather than a recycling of the stuff from the first movie, the Athenians have BLUE cloaks. And kilts.

Because the actual Zack Snyder was busy making Stupidman, the actual directing, if that’s the word I’m looking for, fell to some other dude whose name I forgot immediately. There’s no way to tell if using actual Zack would have made it better, or so much worse that it would have been fun. I’m not dumb enough, however, to think that the music would have been any better either way. 

The whole movie was made in Bulgaria, traditionally such an enemy of Greece that there’s still a street in Athens named in honour of King Basil the Bulgarslayer; it’s anyone’s guess whether this will improve international relations.

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