By Chris Nashawaty
Updated March 20, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Warner Bros

Proving the old adage that those who cough up 10 bucks to see history are doomed to repeat it, we now get a sequel of sorts to Zack Snyder’s razzle-dazzle Spartan bloodfest, 300. I wasn’t a huge fan of the original. It felt like a Joe Weider bodybuilding magazine turned into an ultraviolent videogame. But the film’s visual artistry was undeniable. In 300: Rise of an Empire, director Noam Murro uses 3-D to up the wow factor even further. There’s so much crimson gore flying off the screen you feel as if you should be wearing a tarp like the folks in the front row of a Gallagher show. Xerxes, the pierced and waxy-smooth Persian king played by Rodrigo Santoro, is out to avenge the death of his father at the hands of strapping Athenian he-man Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton). Egged on by his sultry adviser Artemisia (Eva Green), Xerxes and his men square off against the outnumbered Greek forces — this time on the high seas. The Aegean setting is a nice excuse to stage clever naval gambits that turn into slo-mo orgies of impaling and limb-hacking. But really, the film belongs to Green — maybe the only actress ever to “graduate” from being a Bertolucci muse to a bloodthirsty action-flick dominatrix. With her raven hair, smoky voice, and leather fetish wear, she gooses the repetitive carnage into something deliciously sinister. In the movie’s best scene, she and her enemy Themistokles turn a discussion of surrender into a rough-sex brawl. Henry Kissinger she’s not. B

300: Rise of an Empire

  • Movie
  • R
  • 103 minutes
  • Noam Murro