300: Rise of an Empire - Warner Bros. - Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD
Director: Noam Murro
Cast: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Rodrigo Santoro. Full cast + crew
300: Rise of an Empire has got brawny men generating tidal waves of CGI blood, but it's weirdly lacking the heart and underdog camaraderie that made the first movie such a hit. The plot this time is a bit convoluted since it's a prequel, a side-quel, and a sequel all at the same time (just accept that people are fighting for various reasons), but it benefits from having the always enjoyable presence of Eva Green as the antagonist.
There's not really anything new or inventive here, and the whole style of the movie seems particularly stale if you watched the Starz series Spartacus, but if you liked the first movie it's certainly worth checking out. Just don't expect it to be as striking and original as the first movie.
Other Notable New Releases
I couldn't stop thinking about Enemy for days, even weeks after seeing it, and I'm still not entirely sure what happened in the movie. It's a dark, cryptic, hypnotic film about a man who sees a doppelganger of himself in a movie and becomes obsessed with finding out who this other man really is. Jake Gyllenhaal gives an extraordinary performance in it, and it's the kind of movie that love or hate (and most probably will hate), it will leave a mark on you.
Winter's Tale is another mind-bending movie hitting store shelves this week, but it's baffling for all the wrong reasons. This is the kind of movie where if you describe all the nonsense in the movie to someone (like Colin Farrell time traveling on a flying horse or Will Smith playing Lucifer, just to scratch the surface), it'll only make them want to see it more. And I can hardly blame anyone who wants to see it exclusively for the confusion factor, because it's what roped me in, but I'm amazed it actually managed to be as insane - if not more so - than I was expecting. This is a truly bizarre movie.
Hard-core horror fans will definitely want to seek out Wolf Creek 2, the utterly brutal sequel to the 2005 hit movie about Mick, the maniac that murders people in the Australian outback. The sequel is much bigger than the first, plays more like an action movie than a horror movie at times, and features some very nasty gore. You can also read our interview with Wolf Creek 2 writer-director Greg McLean here.
Also out this week is the grim Irish drama What Richard Did, the breakout role of Hollywood's new it boy Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction), and Blood Ties, which has the strange mixture of Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis and Zoe Saldana all wrapped up in a '70s crime story set in Brooklyn.
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