(On Cable TV, December 2014) My strongest reaction to the first 300 back in 2004, once past the first few garish beheadings, was the realization that I had suddenly been kicked out of the “young males, 18 to 34” demographic category: I found the film excessive, manufactured, far too violent and aimed at younger viewers. So, in saying that the sequel isn’t too bad, I’m just coming to terms with the idea that I’m even older than I was back then. Striking a balance between more of the same and a little bit of new, 300: Rise of an Empire wraps itself around the original film by explaining the origins of its antagonist, taking place alongside the first movie’s timeline and concluding a little bit later. Director Noam Murro renews with the heavy (and bloody) post-processing aesthetics of the Zack Snider original, but benefits from a script that takes place largely in a naval environment, allowing for a bit of extra variety to the visuals. Sullivan Stapleton is no Gerald Butler as the lead, but Eva Green makes a strong impression as the quasi-demented antagonist and almost single-handedly makes the film watching for something other than visual style. Otherwise, it’s a slick historical action war movie, which is to say that it’ll please a certain viewership and doesn’t cater to others. Worth a look, but maybe not a thought.