(USATODAY.com) - Rome wasn't built in a day, but this sword-and-sandals sequel may have been.
Stunningly shot and stupidly written,
But even that stilted dialogue is Fellini-esque compared withEmpire, whose wacky take on Greek history won't bother action fanatics. But for anyone looking for a sense of script (forget plausibility),Empireis a Trojan horse.
Empirebegins promisingly, with the ferocious battle of
But the scene underscoresEmpire'sstruggle. While it's beautiful and bloody,Empirepaints its villains - Xerxes and his lieutenant, the beautiful and deadly naval commander
Their stories dwarf those of Themistokles and his blandly benevolent comrades: a father-son soldier combo and the sulking Spartan Queen Gorgo (one of the few returning players in
Our heroes are swarthy and buff (you know who to root for because the bad guys wear clothes), but they have little to say beyond renditions of "I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees!" And a scene in which Themistokles and Artemisia meet to broker peace but instead break into rough sex draws the necessary R rating - and unintentional laughs.
Director Noam Murro (
And there are plenty.Empirepromises and delivers a literal tide of blood, which will be welcome news for action aficionados looking for a picture that pulls no punches. But for fans of story,Empirethrows none.