19. 300: Rise of an Empire (B)
Dumb fun, which was pretty much what I expected/needed from this, after a busy weekend moving back into my apartment and watching a lot of very serious movies. It's not quite as much dumb fun as it could be, especially because Themistocles is a pretty dull replacement for Leonidas. Gerard Butler's post-300
career has been pretty disappointing, but he was great fun in the movie, and Leonidas was a man of huge appetites who clearly enjoyed the bloodsport. Themistocles is a clean-cut Hero type, all righteous speeches about his love of democracy and the Greek navy, but he never seems to be having any fun.
The counterweight, of course, is Eva Green, whose performance seems already to have become legendary on the net. Whenever she's onscreen, none of the other characters matter. Green's an interesting actress, a bit too brooding/tragic in her looks to ever work as a leading lady in most contexts, but this sort of role is perfect for her.
One of the main reasons I enjoyed this was the representation of a full-scale naval battle, something it's never really been possible to do on film in the pre-CGI age, given how expensive filming on water is and how many ships you would need. Also, this is the rare movie where the female leads are much more sensibly dressed for battle than the male characters. It's weirdly structured, though, in that the villains have way more backstory and motivation than the heroes. Even the title makes them seem like the protagonists, since the empire that is rising can only refer to Persia (though this really isn't their "rise" at all) (if you were taking an extra-textual view you could argue that the empire is the Delian League, but that's never actually referred to in the film itself).
Cinema: 8 (+1)