Monday, March 17, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire

Hey, you know what you should do? If there's a small, independently-owned theater in your neighborhood, you should go there, buy a ticket, buy some food (because that's how theaters make profits) and enjoy the feeling you get from supporting what is (and should be?) a dying industry, no matter what movie it is you go to see. By the way, I saw 300: Rise of an Empire yesterday.

You know, I appreciate a movie that gives me something to talk about, even if it's bad. And, I can see that the makers of this film made a few choices that showed they cared, if only a little bit. For the first half of the movie, there is a CG storm covering the sky, which fills the screen with nothing but dark blue colors offset by the lighter blue of the Athenian cape. That's not an accident, you know, that's care, and it creates an emotional and visual effect.

Granted, a similar technique was utilized in 300...

...but compared to other action movies, this type technique is still a very welcome addition to the movie.

What kind of color scheme is going on here? I see blues, browns, reds, gray...
I have similar thoughts regarding actors as I do towards art in comic books. On one end of the bell curve, there are actors and artists who are so good they elevate the material, and on the other end, something so bad that it distracts from the material. However, for me, most art and most actors fall into a wide middle region. That adequate but not special region. I love Lena Headey, and the guys in the male leads in this movie do a great job, but Eva Green nails this role.

It doesn't hurt that she also happens to be the most well-written character in this movie by far. Our male protagonist claims to love freedom and unified Greece, but I have no idea why. He doesn't seem to have any motivation for loving these things and doesn't show that he loves them in any way. Eva Green's character, on the other, gets an extended origin story. We see the seeds of her revenge get planted and grow, and watch her take steps to accomplish her goal. Everybody else was just kinda hanging out. I wanted her to win.

But this is all faint praise, because, as I said, this is a bad movie. I was trying to figure out if the movie was being excessively bloody as a stylistic choice or just to revel in violence, but eventually I settled on the fact that it doesn't matter. It was still too fucking bloody. The blood effects are of course, not real and not even realistic CGI, and there so much of it to distract me every time somebody got killed, so I was offended twice.

I can get lost in a dumb action. I can. For all its faults, 300 had a distinct style to it and it was damn fun to watch. This movie was not fun, because every time a fight scene happened, I could only focus on the huge amounts of fake, plastic-looking blood being poured out of every wound. Every. Wound. I think somebody gets punched in the face at one point and a gush of blood squirts out. Again, I get that this is an action movie in love with excess, but it becomes a problem when it distracts your audience.

I have a problem with watching on-screen rape, especially in a movie where war and violence are glorified. It equates the two in a bad way. If you want to show rape in a movie that deals with it in a sober manner, alright. Uncomfortable still, but acceptable. Eva Green's character has "rape as a backstory", which is bad enough, but the fact that doesn't end up the victor at the end sends an awful message.

And the sex scene. Let's talk about the sex scene. There was a sex scene in 300. It was in the dark, with extreme close-ups, in slow motion, and represented the love that Leonidas had for his wife that he couldn't express verbally. The sex scene here goes on for way too fucking long, in too much light and far too violently. What really sucks is that it starts out serving a thematic and plot-related purpose, but, reveling in excess, just goes on too long and shows too much. You are not showing the characters' struggling with their attraction for each other, you are watching porn. You are watching people fucking.

1) Well made? - Those blood effects are awful, and there are very few new stylistic elements to this movie that didn't also appear in 300
2) Contributed?  - Not to anything. Maybe Eva Green's career.
3) Good time? - Nooo. It was boring at best.
4) Watch again? - Never.
5) Worth it?  - Not even. There is nothing to be gained here.
6) Who should watch this? -

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