300: Rise of an Empire

Rated 2.0

A good, nasty central villain performance and some decent visuals keep 300: Rise of an Empire from being truly awful. In the end, it’s just marginally bad. Director Noam Murro’s take on the exposed-belly, ancient-warrior thing lacks any real dramatic tension. His film is a bunch of boat fights mixed with people in togas emoting slowly on soundstages. It’s a little bit of a prequel to 300, in that we see the origins of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), the golden god Persian warrior who gave Gerard Butler (who appears in reused footage from 300) such a hard time in the last film. As far as storytelling goes, the Xerxes prologue is easily the most compelling part of the movie. Too bad it accounts for only a few minutes. Rise of an Empire is slightly better than, say, your average direct-to-video sequel or prequel, but without Butler starring or Zach Snyder directing, it’s ultimately inferior to the first movie. And that first movie wasn’t all that great to begin with. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R