If you really liked the movie 300, but you thought it was too arty and didn’t have enough of the following:

Beheadings

Blue capes

Boats

Boobs

Choke-sex

Plastic-looking digital blood

Voice overs

…then you’re in luck! 300: Rise of an Empire is the movie for you. Empire isn’t so much a sequel to 300 as a side-quel, in which the (much more interesting) events of 300 happen simultaneously with this film. To remind you of that fact, characters continually make reference to King Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans, and we occasionally see flashbacks from the first film. As in 300, the enemies of Empire are Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and the invading Persian army. But rather than Leonidas, the hero is Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton, not nearly as intense as Gerard Butler, but charismatic enough in his own way), admiral of the Athenian navy. Instead of the Spartans’ signature red capes, the Athenians wear blue capes. Instead of 300 Spartans fighting off thousands of Persians, it’s a handful of Athenian boats fending off thousands of Persian warships. (I guess 300: Blue Crush didn’t have the kind of menacing ring that producers were going for.)

In case you can’t tell, this is a bad movie. But it’s also kind of insane, in an almost admirable way. First of all, you have Eva Green as the lead heavy Artemisia, the leader of the Persian navy. With her crazy eyes peering out from behind approximately five pounds of eyeliner, Green gnaws on terrible lines like “TODAY, WE DELIVER SUBMISSION!” She wears ridiculous gowns with spiky gold spines sticking out the back. It’s not a career-making performance, but it sure is a fun one, at least.

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Green’s slobbering villainous bravado is matched only by the viewer’s increasing suspicion as the film plays out that nobody behind the camera had any fucking clue what they were doing. 300 director Zack Snyder is too busy transforming Superman into a gloomy, wretched mess to bother directing the sequel, but his fingerprints are everywhere on the credits: He’s the producer and the co-screenwriter, and Noam Murro’s direction is aped directly from Snyder with its relentless love of slow motion and hyperstylized computer graphics. A lot of Empire could be a video game, with its repetitious violence and those arterial sprays of gooey black blood shooting out of every wound.

The story is garbage, the copious voice-overs are impenetrable, and the script is a string of clunky lines about freedom and how today is the time to “SEIZE YOUR GLORY!” Sometimes it all gets so vacant that it becomes an exercise in the filmography of nothingness. If a parking garage came to life and made a movie, that movie might look a lot like Empire. If I was high and looking to kill time at the multiplex, I guess I’m saying, this is the movie to see. You might not remember anything when it’s all over, but you’ll be certain that you watched something. recommended