If "300" was all about blood and guts and gore, then it appears that "300: Rise of an Empire" boasts more of the same — except this time, it's a sexier affair.
In fairness, director Zack Snyder's "300" had its fair share of half-naked men and women, of course. But to hear critics tell it, there's a sex scene in "Rise of an Empire" that is absolutely unforgettable — an "all-timer," according to one review. Much of that success (sexcess?) belongs to the film's choreographers, as well as Eva Green's turn as the villainous Artemesia.
Read our review round-up for more about the story of "Rise of an Empire," Green's work in the film, and yes, more about that soon-to-be-infamous sex scene.
"Taking place concurrently with the first film, 'Rise of an Empire' stars Sullivan Stapleton (TV's 'Strike Back') as Themistocles, an Athenian general who resorts to battling Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his conquering Persian armies only after exhausting all efforts to unite Greece as a democratic nation. Refused help from Sparta by Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), Themistocles assembles a small army of free men and employs naval strategy to impede the Persians from striking land. But after finding his ranks decimated by the sheer volume of forces being controlled by Queen Artemisia (Eva Green), Persia's most formidable general, Themistocles begins to reconsider the actual cost to his men — and to his country — of pursuing a so-called noble death." — Todd Gilchrist, The Wrap
"A '300' movie isn't about clever dialogue and cultured performances, but rather large, loud spectacle, and 'Rise of an Empire' delivers throughout. It's a relief, as helmer Noam Murro's only previous credit is romantic comedy 'Smart People,' making him an unusual choice for the director's chair. Thankfully, he turns 'Rise of an Empire' into the most spectacular film of the year thus far, with stand-out sequences including a fiery sea battle that makes the jaw drop, and a slow-motion fight involving father and son that has to be seen to be believed. Indeed even a love scene is filmed like a brawl; a literal battle of the sexes that's more erotic than it has any right to be." — Chris Tilly, IGN Movies
The Art of Artemesia
"Really, the film belongs to [Eva] Green — maybe the only actress ever to 'graduate' from being a Bertolucci muse to a bloodthirsty action-flick dominatrix. With her raven hair, smoky voice, and leather fetish wear, she gooses the repetitive carnage into something deliciously sinister. In the movie's best scene, she and her enemy Themistokles turn a discussion of surrender into a rough-sex brawl. Henry Kissinger she's not." — Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
Sex, Sex, And More Sex
"There is a sex scene in '300: Rise of an Empire' that is an all-timer. Put it right up there on the shelf next to 'Don't Look Now,' 'A History of Violence,' 'Blue is the Warmest Color,' '9 ½ Weeks' and any of the others that make those best-of lists. Actually, put next to that insanity in the pool from 'Showgirls' (you know, with the dolphin statue?), because there's a level of playful absurdity that changes it from a representation of love (or, more accurately, lust) to something of a Broadway choreographer's interpretation of a fight. Like a 'West Side Story' rumble, but with Eva Green moaning and bent over a table with maps and war figurines. A rise of an empire, indeed." — Jordan Hoffman, Screen Crush
The Final Word
"'Rise of an Empire' is not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it's very impressive in its single-minded dedication to creating a moviegoing experience designed to totally engulf its audience. It's absurd but undeniably memorable." — Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times
"300: Rise of an Empire" is in theaters now.