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300 : Rise of An Empire 

So I was very much looking forward to seeing this movie. I had my popcorn primed and I was ready for carnage ! Sadly, what I saw was not what I had expected. This is not to say that the movie was not entertaining, that I was not amused by the not one, not two but 3 odes to that fantastic kick in the chest that was so famed in the first movie. It is not to say that I didn't enjoy how Eva Green embraced her role as the new adversary nor is it to say that I didn't enjoy Lena Heady's take on the infamous, "this is Sparta" quote. 

I have one essential problem with 300: Rise of an Empire and it is that it was severly lacking in storyline. The movie begins with the current Persian king deciding (after very little prompting by Eva Green's character) to become a God and so off he goes into a desert where he finds a random cave with a pool of water in it. After a quick dip in this magical water he emerges no longer a man but a smooth and shiny golden "God King". My question is this. If the random homless people living in this cave saw these wildly impressive results why do they not also want to be Gods ? Regardless, the amazing transformation is never explained or revisited and this God King is hardly seen in the movie at all because he disappears for just about all of it to go and fight the 300! 

Meanwhile Eva Green (Artemisia) is left to her own devices to deal with those pesky Greek farmers and their tiny ships who are giving her supposedly well trained troops and their giant war ships way more trouble that they should, leaving her (quite rightly so) to make her "You Fools!" face on more than one occasion. 

In addition, the main character is now called Themistokles which is confusing because it always sounds like they're saying The Mistokles which means that every time they say his name it sounds like it doesn't make sense in the sentence. 

Yes there was carnage, yes there was blood and yes there were a few mildly impressive tatics employed by the Greeks in order to win their battle with the much more war-ready Persians but I cannot deny that there was something essential missing and when the God King made his final cameo in the movie as he turned and silently walked away from the battlefield I couldn't help but wonder which empire it was that  had risen exactly. I suppose it was the Greeks as the Spartans joined them in battle but I am no more certain of this than I am of the origins of that super magical, God-forging water ! 

*** (2.5 Stars - upgraded to 3 stars because Eva Green's face is epic!)

You're Next 

I was lucky enough to attend a preview screening of this movie last night (attended by its stars Sharni Vinson and Wendy Glenn) and even though it was technically shot 2 years ago and had been shelved by lionsgate for 2 years it still works just as well in today's market as it would have then. 

The characters were are presented with are strange from beginning to end. The protagonist and her boyfriend are an odd match from the very beginning as he is older, bearded, subdued and slightly chubby whereas she is slim, beautiful and full of life. 

This is the kind of movie that you just have to watch - if I say too much it will spoil the surprise twists. Suffice it to say that the premise is basically a family reunion; 4 estranged kids (1 girl, 3 boys) come back home each brining their significant others for their parent's wedding anniversary. 

In all this is an exciting new take on the horror movie genre that mixes action and comedy with the more traditional gore. A thoroughly enjoable movie that doesn't take itself too seriously and there in lies its scuccess.  

****(4) Stars

The Mortal Instruments - City of Bones

I always like to read a book before I see the movie but alas with this one, time got away from me and so this review is essentially from the point of view of someone who has not read the book. I was lucky enough to get to watch the movie on the 15th Aug (before it's general release on the 21st). 

First of all - I had a little question about the title - I realise that the first book is called "TMI - City of Bones" but I have to say, in the movie, they're in the City of Bones for about 30 seconds so . . . it would seem more appropriate to just drop that part of the title. However, I understand that since the sequel movies are coming it would be best to stick with the book titles.

I must confess that I did start reading the book and I was about 5 chapters in before seeing the movie. One of the great differences I noticed straght away was the fact that Clary did not kill the Ravner deamon herself as she did in the book but rather Jace appeared at exactly the right moment and killed it for her. In the book this was quite an empowering moment for Clary and it gains her some respect from her fellow shadow hunters. 

Supporting characters (like the fierce Isabelle) seem to take a back-seat to the Clary-Jace-Simon love triangle which is unfortunate as at times it leaves the audience a little confused. I'll give an example of this - the fact that within seconds Clary figures out that Alec is in love with Jace is definitely confusing for an audience that has not read the book. The movie alludes to it at first but so subtly that it's more as though you're left not really understnading what Isabelle and Clary are talking about until later on in the movie when Clary flat out says it to Alec and her responds by slamming her against the wall. His character is not well explored and rather skipped over so in the end when he is in mortal danger it is difficult to care. 

**Spoiler alert** There is a particularly uncomfortable twist in the movie which, for those unaquainted with the book will leave them quite shocked. Clary and Jace share a passionate kiss and then it is revealed that they may be brother and sister. I had the unfortunate experience of going to see the movie with my brother (awkward!)

One thing that came across extrememly well in the movie was the Clary-Jace relatonship. In fact, Jace is easily the most likeable character in the movie with his quick sarcastic humour and the fact that he "wants to save the world". 

Another aspect of the movie that is highly successful is the CGI which is believable and very well done. Yes there are vampires and werewolves which we have seen time and time again but the demons are a new twist. 

*** (3.5) Stars