The landscapes are spectacular, and certainly feel authentic to Ancient Greece and Persia. Which is all the more confusing, because most of the Greeks [including Alex's dad, Val Kilmer - Willow ] have adopted Oirish accents. Apparently this was a deliberate choice by the director, not to accommodate Farrell's inability to do other accents but to make the Macedonians appear more backwards than urbanised Greeks like Aristotle [Christopher Plummer].
Angelina Jolie doesn't pretend to be Irish - she uses a dodgy Russian accent instead, like she does in Beowulf . As Alex's scheming bitch of a mother, she puts him off women - until he meets Rosario Dawson , that is. In reality, Jolie is the same age as Farrell - but she delivers a strong performance, which saves the film.
Prospero's eeevil brother, John Glover [ Smallville ] helps the local residents defend themselves from those Damn Yankee invaders.
Unfortunately, The Powers That Be [including Edward Woodward - Wicker Man ] frown on such behaviour, and intend to hang the abductors!
Meanwhile, back in Sparta, Queen Lena Headey plots with Stephen McHattie [ ] to raise the rest of the Spartan army and rescue the 300!
Zach Snyder delivers an adaption of a graphic novel by Frank Miller. And much like the last Miller adaption, Sin City , this is just pure style over substance. In order to give it the artistic look and feel, the backdrops are all greenscreen and there is excessive use of slo-mo!
The story runs parallel to the first film, although there are bits set before (to give background) and after (to provide conclusion). Thus, certain characters who die in the first film actually make brief reappearances.
While Xerxes leads his land forces against the 300 Spartans, his naval forces under Artemesia ( Eva Green ) face off against a small force of Athenian ships. The result is a series of typically violent confrontations, in the vein of the action scenes from the first film - although there is not the same reliance of slo-mo.
This is based on a Chinese Kung Fu film, over-dubbed with new dialogue. Actors are digitally inserted into scenes, and entirely new scenes are created with CGI.
The best scene is the Mootrix - a Matrix style martial arts duel between the hero and ... a CGI cow!
Keep an eye out for a young Philip Kwok, best known as Mad Dog in Hard-Boiled!
A motley band of Imperial Loyalists try to save their young Emperor. The tutor Ambrosinius [Ben Kingsley - Sound of Thunder ] and General Colin Firth [ ] end up taking the boy to Britannia, where the Last Legion is garrisoning Hadrian's Wall. They are pursued by villainous Goths Kevin McKidd [ Rome ] and James Cosmo [ Braveheart ], and Ambrosinius also has some local enemies to deal with!
Although this is based on a book, it apparently doesn't follow it very closely. It certainly doesn't pretend to follow the historical facts, although it's nice to see a new take on the Arthurian legends. To sum the film up: the babe [ Aishwarya Rai ] is the best fighter of the lot. Yes, it's THAT kind of film!
Ray Winstone [ Beowulf ] is one of Arthur's loyal followers.
This version of the Arturian Legend attempts authenticity instead of the typical OTT approach.
The bickering pair must travel a hundred miles across the Kingdom, pursued by the wicked witch [ Michelle Pfeiffer ] and an equally villainous Prince. En route they encounter a disturbing number of British comedy actors, including a Fence [Ricky Gervase] and a goat [Mark Williams - Red Dwarf ]. They are even captured by Sky-Pirates Robert De Niro [ Hide and Seek, Godsend ] and Dexter Fletcher [ Robin Hood (2006) ].
This is taken from a comic by Neil Gaiman , and is actually very good. The nearest comparison would be Princess Bride - a sort of light-hearted Fantasy swashbuckler. It goes for comedy rather than gore - there are several brutal killings, but it's well-edited to show little or no blood! All in all, well worth watching.
A tomboyish young girl lives in Oxford University, in a Steampunk-ish parallel universe ruled by the eeevil Magisterium [Derek Jacobi, Christopher Lee, etc]. The magical aspect of the story comes mainly from the fact that everyone's soul resides in a talking animal that accompanies them, referred to as a Daemon. What hurts the human also hurts the Daemon, and vice versa.
The girl's Uncle Asriel [Daniel Craig - Casino Royale ] discovers a clue to the secret of travel between parallel universes, and goes to the north pole to complete his discovery. The girl is taken into the care of Nichole Kidman ...
The girl goes on a quest to the North Pole, to save her uncle and her cildhood friends from. She picks up some useful allies, including a Witch [Bond girl Eva Green ], a balloon pilot [Sam Elliot] and a talking Polar Bear [Sir Ian McKellen - LOTR, X-Men ]. However, she also has to overcome a variety of foes, including the Usurper King of the Bears [Ian McShane - Deadwood].
A Viking feast is attacked by a monster named Grendel. The King [Anthony Hopkins - Silence of the Lambs ] invites monster-slayers to save his people, and Beowulf [Ray Winstone - Robin of Sherwood ] arrives. The King's advisor [John Malkovich - Being John Malkovich ] has his doubts, but Beowulf faces the monster in battle ...
As anyone familiar with the story will know, the real danger isn't Grendel but his mother. Here the writers [including Roger Avery ] have taken extreme liberties with the source material . She's now a seductive demoness who looks like Angelina Jolie and speaks with a dodgy Russian accent. She makes a deal with Beowulf - a deal he may regret!
Fairy Godmother Vivica A. Fox gives Ella a blessing of obedience, but it turns out to be more of a curse. Ella treks across the Kingdom to find Ms Fox again. Her quest is like a live-action version of Shrek , with occasional breaks in the plot for the characters to perform 20th-century songs.
Minnie Driver pops up as Ella's friend. Her BF [Jimi Mistri - The Guru] is turned into a book, and becomes one of Ella's magical companions.
There's a subplot. The kids' parents were in a secret society, investigating mysterious arson cases.
The heroic Pirates go to Singapore, and try to recruit local warlord Chow Yun-Fat [ Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ]. All the pirates are being squeezed by the East India Company, which is privatising the whole world.
The Pirates must use Voodoo magic to rescue Jack Sparrow, although he does a pretty good job himself. The Voodoo woman from the second film has a much expanded part, which isn't a problem. However, a number of characters who are vital to the second film are written off in a most anti-climactic fashion!
Keira Knightley has to work out which of her love interests she is meant to end up with. That's actually her major plot thread. Despite this, she does get to do a very piratey thing indeed.
Finally, everyone meets up for a big sea battle. Lots of CGI is used, and it's ... well, overblown and shallow.
The final scene - the VERY final scene - is after the credits. Yes, after about five minutes of credits. Hmm. Whether it's worth the wait is up to yourself.
The Spanish have dispatched a crew to locate the Fountain. Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rushe - House on Haunted Hill ) now looks a lot older, and has accepted a commission as a privateer in the pay of King George II. He wants to find the Fountain too. And Blackbeard (Ian McShane - Golden Compass ) himself is after it as well.