‘300: Rise of an Empire’ rakes in money at the box office while reviews are brutal (but hilarious)

March 10, 2014

Sullivan Stapleton in “300: Rise of an Empire.” (Warner Bros. Pictures/AP)

Yep, the producers of “300: Rise of an Empire” are laughing all the way to the bank on Monday: The widely-panned movie raked in $45 million over the weekend, making it the No. 1 movie in the country. The graphic 3-D film (a sequel to Zack Snyder’s surprise 2007 Spartan soldier hit “300”) was obviously something audiences wanted to see — and discuss afterwards, thanks to one insane and violent sex scene.

Reception by critics, however, was … not great. Starring Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton as Greek solider Themistokles and French actress Eva Green as naval leader Artemisia, the film got scathing reviews for being a bloody, violent epic that somehow managed to be boring. Though the movie wasn’t any fun to watch, it was sure entertaining reading reviews from horrified critics.

“When the film isn’t sloppily directed, it’s a series of lazy filmmaking tics, including fetishistic slow-motion shots of blood, water and sweat, as well as sundry dismemberments, impalings and decapitations. It sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?” wrote The Post’s film critic Ann Hornaday. “But ‘Rise of an Empire’ is no fun at all — even those famous six-pack abs from ‘300’ seem to be missing a can or two in this desperate attempt to up an already dubious ante.”

Eva Green in "300: Rise of an Empire." (Warner Bros. Pictures/AP) Eva Green in “300: Rise of an Empire.” (Warner Bros. Pictures/AP)

With a headline proclaiming it to be a “soul-draining gorefest,” the Guardian summed up the campy film:  “Noam Murro’s stereoscopic (non)sequel simply presents a moshpit of men in leather skirts going “Graaaaaarrrgjhhhhh!” while splattering post-Zatoichi digital blood with their sloshing swords and glistening chests,” said critic Mark Kermode.

Critics really didn’t like the violence. The movie “simply plays out like a series of violent oil paintings: still and lifeless, over-created and under-thought,” wrote Film.com’s James Rocchi (though he added there’s a special 3-D blood spurt every now and then). The Star-Tribune’s Colin Covert offered that the film was like a collaboration between “the History Channel and the “Saw” franchise.”

Read through the Rotten Tomatoes list of reviews, and they get even more indignant, mostly calling it a slog, or as Newsday puts it, “A plotless montage of anonymous bodies.” Though some find bright spots, such as Green. “Green is the only one with a commanding presence,” wrote Gary Dowell of darkhorizons.com. “And she alone appears to have any fun as she hacks, slashes, struts, and makes out with a freshly severed head (seriously).”

Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for the Post. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyYahr.
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