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‘300’ sequel is prettier but less thrilling

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It was too much to hope that someone with Gerard Butler’s charismatic, bellowing swagger would be around for the sequel, “300: Rise of an Empire.” His Leonidas and his oiled-down eight-pack are sorely missed, as are the quotable quatrains of that famous fight, the Spartan trash talk that sings through the ages. So many Persian arrows will rain on them that they will “blot out the sun”? “Then we shall fight in the shade.” There’s nothing that moving in “Rise of an Empire,” a more visually stunning but less thrilling epic with bloodier slo-motion swordfights, this time at sea. It lacks the heroic proportions and poetry of “300,” mainly thanks to a less impressive cast and murky, forgettable script.

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