“300: Rise Of An Empire”

A gory, sexy prequel to “300” that makes up for the loss of Gerard Butler with the mother of all villainesses: Eva Green.

There is one reason and one reason only to see this : Eva Green. Best known as a Bond girl, after “300: Rise Of An Empire”, she will forever be known for one of the most outrageous sex scenes ever. Or, should I refer to it as a battle scene. This is definitely NOT making love. This sex is making WAR. Eva Green is beyond fierce as the battle-leading Artemisia. She is deliciously sinister and makes everyone else on screen fade into the background. And that’s hard to do considering the beyond perfectly chiseled body after body after body. I’m talking both sexes. The nudity starts maybe 30 seconds into the film.

Like “300”, this movie lives by CGI. Unlike “300”, this time the humans look real, not CGI-cartoonized. That was my problem with “300”. The digitized bodies.

The prequel is frenetically gory. So if you’re gonna take it in, do it right : in 3-D and Imax.

I promise: you will never forget Eva Green.

2-and-a-half stars

“Mr. Peabody & Sherman”

Based on the cartoon characters from the 60’s “Rocky & His Friends” and “Rocky & Bullwinkle”, this is one animator that not only doesn’t dumb-it-down, it smarts-it-up.

This animator may end up more beloved by adults than kids. With jokes for all ages, the puns are aimed at adults . It’s witty, smart, sweet and sentimental. For kids, it’s an entertaining history lesson as Mr. Peabody and Sherman time-travel, thanks to Mr. Peabody’s WABC (way back) time machine. Adults will appreciate the sharp humor.

Sounding uncanningly like “Frasier” star David Hyde Pierce, it’s “Modern Family” star Ty Burrell who voice-stars as the bespectacled smartest/most accomplished dog on earth. Burrell’s tv daughter, Ariel Winter, also star-voices, along with Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Allison Janney and as Mr. Peabody’s adopted son, Sherman, it’s the kid who played a 4 year old Peter Parker in “The Amazing Spider-man” in 2012, Max Charles.

The 3-D makes this already colorful animator even more lively. It’s an absolute joyride through history. I loved it.

3-and-a-half stars.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Wes Anderson’s most layered and ambitious movie yet: a mad cap caper-thriller centering on the adventures of a legendary Eastern European concierge between wars.

This is the first Oscar-worthy film of the year. Peculiar that it’s being released in March, when most people are still catching the latest Academy Award winners. But peculiar is what writer-director Wes Anderson is all about and his latest is absolutely his best.

Forty-four year old Houston native Wes Anderson first made his mark 20 years ago with “Bottle Rocket”, followed by, among others, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”, “The Royal Tennenbaums”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Moonrise Kingdom”.

Always whimsical and meticulously and colorfully stylized down to every detail, every shot in this film is just gorgeous. Anderson is equally unique for his dry wit, sharp writing and droll rapid-fire speech, which Ralph Fiennes brilliantly nails as the concierge of a famous hotel in a make-believe Eastern European country, set during the rise of Nazism. This is the story of a stolen priceless painting and a family feud during rapidly changing times.

Wes Anderson brings back his perennial faves: Bill Murray; Edward Norton; Owen Wilson; Jason Schwartzman; Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe and he initiates Jude Law; F. Murray Abraham; Tilda Swinton; Tom Wilkinson and Saoirse Ronan. Most notably an Anderson virgin: the incredibly talented Ralph Fiennes, who anchors all others in this magnificent film.

Wes Anderson’s films are always in a class by themselves but this tops them all. He creates his own world . Richer than his previous work, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is more than a quirky comedy. It’s pretty much perfect.

4 stars