What can I say? I love 3D! From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content. I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite. That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT. I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky. However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation. These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves. I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum. My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released. As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.
Rise of an Empire
Studio: Warner Bros.
Product Release: June 24, 2014
Audio: DTS-HD MA 7.1
Running Time: 103 minutes
On A Scale 0-5
Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 3
3D Separation: 4
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 2
I never considered myself to be a trained, professional reviewer. It's times
like these that I wish I had the ability to write a review no matter the circumstance.
You see, when one is inspired by a film, the words just seem to flow on their own.
However, after having just seen 300: Rise of an Empire, I feel so utterly uninspired
that I am not certain exactly what to say next....
Let me start by saying, though I remember seeing the original 300 some 7 years ago,
that film isn't very fresh in my mind. I know it was based upon the Battle of
Thermopylae and the 300 Spartans who fend off the Persian Army from reaching Sparta.
While not historically accurate, and offering more style over substance, the film was a
highly stylish, epic achievement for its time much in thanks to its groundbreaking CGI
visuals and the performance of its lead actor, Gerard Butler.
300: Rise of an Empire is more of a parallel story than sequel, with its events taking
place at the same time of the original. Greek general Thermistokles (Sullivan Stapleton)
heads the Athens Navy to war against the Persian Naval Forces headed by Artemisia
(Eva Green), a scorned woman avenging the death of Persian King Darius (Igal Naor).
The film has a built-in audience that will no doubt enjoy the over-the-top, gushing
bloodbath violence that made the original so successful. However, for me, all of
the slow-mo brutality and gratuitous sex scenes couldn't make up for a complete
lack of compelling storytelling, and as such, left me feeling rather empty inside.
Shot entirely in front of green screens, 300: Rise of an Empire has a razor-sharp,
highly-defined image quality that really brings out textures and fine detail. The problem
is, the film is loaded with so much artificial distraction (intended for the film's atmosphere)
that one rarely gets to awe at its beauty. Image is heavily filtered, and colors are purposely
muted, sans the ever-present splattering of red blood. There is no grain or digital artifacts
to be found anywhere.
In 3D, 300: Rise of an Empire is simply an average viewing experience. This is no
surprise given the fact that this is an upconversion done in post production. There is a
a formidable level of depth that enhances the film's effect work, particularly the intentional
objects digitally layered throughout. This is what I previously described as "artificial distraction"
where every scene is littered with with some sort of added sunspot activity, light reflection,
floating dust or flying ash & embers. In 2D it would probably be unnoticeable, but it's
painfully obvious when there is added depth. There are some impressive moments where
depth really works its magic, particularly in an overhead shot of Xerxes, the "God King"
(Rodrigo Santoro) walking out on a platform before a cheering crowd below. There isn't
any blatant pop-out projections to be had anywhere, though the film's opening title seems
to move itself outwards, and in an underwater battle graveyard scene just over an hour in,
artificially placed water bubbles seem to move themselves forward towards the viewer. In
all, I don't think the 3D really adds anything extraordinary to the film but it does manage to
further its artistic beauty. I saw no hints of crosstalk/ghosting anywhere.
On the audio front, this Blu-ray boasts a powerhouse 7.1 DTS-HD soundtrack that really
brings out Hans Zimmer's drum pounding, synthesized soundtrack enhanced with tremendous
LFE undertones. The rears do an outstanding job of handling the effects that include splashing
waves of water, rumbles of thunder and choral singing. Dialogue stays firmly center channel
without being overwhelmed. Since upgrading from 5.1, I have really enjoyed soundtracks like
these that further immerse the viewer into the film, and this one does not disappoint.
300: Rise of an Empire arrives as a 3-disc set (Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD with Digital HD)
with Blu-ray discs stacked upon each other. It is housed in lenticular cardboard packaging.
There are a wealth of extras that concentrate on the historical aspects of the film as well as
giving a look at the production itself.
300: Rise of an Empire is just pale in comparison to the 2006 film. It's a rather soulless
effort that lacks the forcible and passionate lead performance that Gerard Butler brought
to the original. The added depth that 3D provides adds more drama to the battle scenes,
but in its entirety, isn't a huge boost for a film that is pretty much a dud.
Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc.
Samsung PN64F8500 display professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen, Lion AV
Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player
Denon 3311CI Receiver
Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear side and back speakers
SV Sound Subwoofer