Niagara Gazette — The screenplay by Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad is based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel. In France, homegrown graphic novels are considered high art. In America these heavy-duty comic books seem like excuses for their creators to think dirty and to ratchet up villainy to the extreme.
The film centers on Themistocles and Artemisia I, as well as the weary Queen Gorgo of Sparta and the bellicose Xerxes I of Persia, a deeply-tanned fellow prone to piercing his body so that he can wear chains of all shapes and sizes. What little story there is focuses primarily on naval engagements, especially the Battle of Artemisium, which was going on around the same time as the Battle of Thermopylae. We do learn that the Greek city-states are desperate to unify to resist the vicious and determined Artemisia and her leather clad minions. Born Greek, she has turned against her homeland because of childhood issues, including sexual psychosis and bondage.
Snyder directed “300” and gave it some style. He has produced the sequel, but has left the directing, and I use the word loosely, to Noam Murro, who has made a cluttered, superfluous movie. He slathers on the violence because he has no clue as to how to build tension. He wants to distract the audience from his film’s shallowness.
The cinematography is murky; grays and blacks dominate, and looming shadows take the place of believable drama. There are times when the 3D glasses make it seem as if you’re watching the movie through dirty bath water. The British and Bulgarian cast members are a gaggle of non-entities. Only the Parisian-born Eva Green, as the evil Artemisia, creates an interesting character.
“300: Rise Of An Empire” is an utterly banal attempt to cash in on a much better movie.