Gun to my head, I might be able to say something positive about 300: Rise of an Empire. In a vacuum, I suppose I'd call its aesthetic appealing, its production value impressive, or its giant rhinos kind of cool. But these elements cannot be taken alone, embroidered on a gigantic patch of joyless pain that infests your conscious mind from its inceptive moments on.
It's not so much that the 300 sequel fails at its desired conceit — it gives you exactly what it promises: gore, swordplay, angry sex, halfwit maxims about honor and manliness and the love of the fight. It's simply that its desired conceit is dehumanizing agony. Holding too hard and too long to its mission statement to top its Zack Snyder-helmed predecessor in scope, scale, and spilled pints of blood, Noam Murro's Rise of an Empire doesn't put any energy into filtering its spectacular mayhem through whatever semblance of a humanistic touch made the first one feel like a comprehensive movie.
Now, it's been a good eight years since I've seen 300, and I can't say that I was particularly fond of it. But beneath its own eye-widening layer of violence, there was a tangible idea of who King Leonidas was, what this war meant, and why Sparta mattered. No matter how much clumsy exposition is hurled our way, all we really know here is that there are two sides and they hate each other.
When Rise of an Empire asks us to engage on a more intimate level, which it does — the personal warfare between Sullivan Stapleton (whose name, I guess, is Themistokles) and Bad Guy Captain Eva Green (a.k.a. Artemisia) is founded on the idea that she likes him, and he kind of digs her (re: angry sex), and they want to rule together, but a rose by any other name and all that — we're effectively lost. With characters who don't matter in the slightest, material like this is just filler between the practically striking battle sequences.
But when the "in-between material" is as meaningless as it is in Rise of an Empire, the battles can't function as much more than filler themselves. Filler between the opening titles and closing credits. A game of Candy Crush you play on the subway. Contemptfully insubstantial and not particularly fun, but taking place nonetheless.
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Without even a remote layer of camp — too palpably absent as Rise of an Empire splashes its screen with so much human fluid that "The End" by The Doors will start to play in your head — there's no victory in a movie like this. No characters to latch onto, no story to follow, no joy to be derived. Yes, it might be aesthetically stunning (and really, that's where the one star comes in... well, half a star for that and half for the giant rhinos), but the marvel of its look shrinks under the shadow of the painful vacancy of anything tolerable.
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Anything can happen on live TV. A slip of the tongue can mean the difference between a F-bomb or a Freudian slip, but sometimes broadcast news can fail spectacularly in all sorts of ways. While some guffaws are fodder for blooper-reels, others are just bad journalism and not-so P.C friendly. While our insider knowledge of broadcast news is largely based on watching too many episodes of Newsroom —just remember these screw-ups got by an entire team of people.
Apparently CNBC Squawk Box Host Joe Kernen just could not contain his hilarious Indian joke, much to the horror or his fellow co-hosts. During the discussion about the value of rupees, Kernen adopted a fake Indian accent and mumbled something original about 7-Eleven. As Aziz Ansari would say, "I think it's so cool that some of you guys were able to travel back in time to 1995 for those Indian jokes you did."
As if that were enough, sometimes it's not just the anchors that play fast and loose with racial stereotypes. After the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco, Fox affiliate KTVU ran a list of fake pilot names that seemed dreamed up by Bart Simpson and not the largest Fox local station. Along with displaying the names, they were also read by the anchors on air after being fact checked by an intern. Proving what we knew all along — that interns are really running the show.
Sometimes we can blame the graphics department for many a mix-up. The tragic case of a missing teenager made viral history, after the new suspect was revealed to be hamster by WFSB in Hartford. The furry "mug shot" was also accompanied the rodent holding a film slate — at least it wasn't pictured in a crime-evading wheel.
We get it, it's hard to say pianist — we do it all the time. Our nicknames for naughty bits seem to have a knack for making it on broadcast more often than not. Reporting from the field, this one reporter slips up some friendly chitchat with a particularly busty-anchor back at the station and ends up congratulating her on her giant rack.
Ladies (and Gentleman) don't pretend to hold an object up near your mouth unless there is a microphone in it. Poor Canadian news anchor Lisa Dutton was excited to share her "mom-preneur" idea about using a vibrating toothbrush for teething newborns. The result is exactly what happens when you try to demonstrate anything vibrating on live television.