Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

March 4, 2014

CALLERI: '300' sequel and 'Omar' light up area screens this week

Niagara Gazette — The motion picture awards seasons is officially over. You may now relax and move about the cabin, or rather, your favorite movie theater. A couple of new films, “300: Rise Of An Empire” and “Omar,” are seeking your attention.

Regarding awards, if you followed my advice in my column in last week’s newspaper, you would have gotten 19 out of 24 Academy Award categories correct. Hopefully you did, and won some kind of delightful prize in your Oscar pool.

Lucy Bevan, the casting director for “300: Rise Of An Empire” must have emptied out every fitness center in Bulgaria, where the movie was shot, to find the hundreds of heavily-muscled, half-naked men that thrash about in this fantasy adventure film. The story here, which runs concurrently with events seen in the original “300,” takes us back to 480 B.C., and the Persian invasion of Greece, during which you will witness R-rated savagery and slaughter the likes of which many of you may never have seen.

The film earns its rating for swordplay that goes the brutality distance, including, but not limited to extensive beheadings, scores of disembowelments, countless chopped-off limbs, and bodies cleaved in half. If that’s not enough for the bloodlust crowd, the evil female Persian leader, Artemisia I of Caria, and the male Athenian leader, Themistocles, will have very rough sex, an extended scene of carnal sadism, which, although never fully going below the waist, offers graphic nudity and thudding sound effects. And just in case you don’t think any of this is enough to justify an R-rating, Artemisia enjoys kissing a severed head.

In “300: Rise Of An Empire,” thick, dark-red blood splashes everywhere, sometimes freezing in mid-air so that you can relish its splattering in uncomfortable 3D. Throughout the picture, we are witness to an exercise in excess that eventually ends up killing, not only scores of screaming soldiers and doomed oarsmen slaves, but also our very own moviegoing spirit. A heavy diet of anything is always detrimental. The historical story is buried under a surfeit of ultra-violence. The audience at the preview screening became exhausted and then disinterested.

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