This is a bizarre weekend. First up, we have a sequel to 300 that no one really asked for. It’s going against an updated version of a 1960’s cartoon that no one asked for either. Now that the steam of The Lego Movie is finally wearing away, it’s clear that Peabody, based only on it being a kids movie, will take it’s #1 stead at the box office.
300: Rise of an Empire
It has been seven years since we saw the green-screen heavy, blood-soaked adventures of Leonidas and his army of 300 men. While it may not have stood the test of time, it was an impressive movie when it first came out. It gave men everywhere, including me, a body image complex. Now, several years later, we see the continuation of the story based on Frank Miller’s ‘300’ graphic novels.
Rise of an Empire takes some risks with its storytelling format. It’s not exactly a prequel or sequel. It’s a mix of everything. The events of Rise take place before, during and after Leonidas’ epic battle. The shouting protagonist this time around is Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton). He’s a former war hero that leads the navy seeking for a united Greece. With word of Xerxes and his Persian army encroaching on Greece, he gathers small troops of shirtless men and they defend Greece from the sea. His opposition is Xerxes’ war-hungry commander, Artemisia (Eva Green). While she thinks she can easily destroy the Greek ships, she finds an even match with Themistokles (My spell check is going crazy).
Basically, glory is seized. Blood is spilled. Skies are in sepia.
Your tolerance of this 300 sequel is going to completely depend on your continued interest in the first movie. Everything that was great and larger-than-life about the first movie is magnified here. This movie will keep your attention by giving you the battles you came to see mixed in with glorious monologues. While you may get tired of the shaded environments of 300, this movie keeps the look fresh because of the battle is taken to the treacherous sea.
Having the majority of this movie take place through ship battles is a refreshing change. Each battle feels fresh due to the naval tactics used. Of course, most of this leads to up-close sword-to-sword combat.
The problem is, 300: Rise of an Empire won’t win back any naysayers. Every problem with the first movie is compounded here. The quick-to-slow action shots are far more noticeable this time around. every time a sword cuts through limbs, we view the Super Soaker of blood in molasses slow motion. A mere papercut will lead to 7 gallons of lost blood.
300: Rise of an Empire would almost be a farce of the first movie if it weren’t for one aspect. Eva Green’s villainous turn as a war-mongering naval commander is the saving grace. She is intimidating and chews the scenery in the best possible way. She even manages to turn an average protagonist into something more with her opposition alone.
Anyone who has been looking forward to this long-delayed sequel will not be disappointed. Action movie fans looking for a bloody adventure will get their money’s worth. Audiences tired of the bombastic style need not apply. I was surprised that I didn’t hate this movie. I found it to be a worthy successor to the first 300. That puts it right in the middle range of quality. Rent 300 part 2.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
This movie follows Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) and his adopted son, Sherman (Max Charles). Peabody grew up as a super-intelligent dog that no one ever cared to take in. Instead, his destiny was to become an inventor. He finds an abandoned baby in a box (weird in a kids movie) and he’s allowed to adopt him. Early in the movie, Sherman is bullied by classmate Penny who calls Sherman a dog. To resolve their differences, Mr. Peabody invites Penny and her parents over for dinner. Hijinks ensue and Peabody, Penny and Sherman take the WABAC machine to the French Revolution, King Tut’s Egypt, the Italian Rennaissance and war-torn Troy. Sherman makes a few mistakes and the time-stream gets a little timey-wimey and changes the present day with disastrous circumstances.
If you take a look at this movie’s Rotten Tomatoes score, you would expect a surprisingly clever kids flick. Parents should not go into this movie with those expectations. Clever, this movie is not.
There are short trips to different time periods with bite-sized history lessons, but the humor relies on redundant jokes, pratfalls and flatulence humor. For a kids comedy about uber-intelligence, there were far too many easy scatological jokes. I’ll just take this opportunity to remind you that The Lego Movie didn’t have one fart joke.
Also, I normally appreciate when a movie is able to recall jokes and make the comedy go full circle, but this movie hits you over the head with jokes about Marie Antoinette loving cake. Again and again. Side note: Marie Antoinette never said “Let them eat cake,” so there’s that.
In my screening, I didn’t hear kids laughing. Instead I heard adults laughing at the jokes already shown in the commercials. Mr Peabody and Sherman is actually quite dull. Many might questions me with this and ask if I ever saw the original. Yes, as a kid I’ve seen nearly every pun-filled segment. However, I never found them funny. There were two clever jokes found in the new version. You’ll know them when you hear/see them. And no, it’s not when Peabody and Sherman fly out of the sphinx’s butt.
There is some sentimentality to be found at the end of the movie. In the end it’s all about what it means to be a good parent and what it takes to be a family. It’s sweet but feels rushed. Basically, it feels like a Dreamworks animation moment. I hate to say this, but Pixar could have done it better.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure x Dirty Diapers + Awkward Dad from Modern Family + Curly Sue = Mr Peabody & Sherman
This movie is colorful enough to keep your kids’ attention, but much of the “humor” will be lost on them. It’s rental quality for your children’s sake. I’d advise you to save your money and just see the far superior Lego Movie.