It’s all fun and games fighting in the Greco-Persian Wars until you have to chill on the warrioring for a bit while the lengthy introductory narration tells the audience a lot of nothing. Or until a horse stomps on your face. But after that stuff’s out of the way the games can begin.
And by games I mean the ones where a bejeweled, caped and man-kini’d sorta-god Xerxes (a crazily unrecognizable Rodrigo Santoro), whose eyes have “the stink of destiny” in them, wages doom on all the good Greeks, thousands of dude-bros whose beards have been “forged in the crucible of battle” and whose collective manscaping regimen otherwise is heavily fixated on torso waxing. I also mean the ones ostentatiously conducted by brutal death-lady Artemisia (Eva Green), a vengeance-minded glamour queen of rough sex and violence. Raped and tortured repeatedly as a girl, she has her reasons for wanting to kill every man who crosses her path, and to that end her favorite activities involve decapitating her enemies and making out with their severed heads. She’s extremely cool.
The Greeks are led by Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton). He’s boring. He can’t even negotiate a decent truce (one conducted via wacky, grunting hump session) with Artemisia. His men are dullards, too. When they’re not pumping themselves up with wannabe St. Crispin’s Day speeches about their finest fighting hour and the honor of dying for the cause of freedom “on our feet rather than liv[ing] on our knees,” they spill thousands of gallons of fakey, brick-red, blood-splooges in laboriously uninventive slow motion. You pretty much wish Artemisia would slaughter them all and have sex with their corpses while snacking on an apple she just stabbed with a two-foot-long dagger.
Meathead camp of the most dimwitted variety, the kind made to look like a knockoff of a much more beautiful video game based on the hit film 300, then stripped of all the original’s hilariously unintentional homoeroticism, it’s a perfunctory sequel that forgets its sense of fun every time its fiery villainess stalks off screen. Good thing she never stays gone for long. You’ll be rooting for her if you know what’s good for you.