Here we have a sort-of prequel/sequel (an ‘equal’?) that happens before, during and after the events of popular gay historical epic 300. It’s topless Greeks fighting again, except this time this isn’t SPARTAAAAAA. This is a joint coaltion of small nation states banded together to fight the Persians at sea. How fascinating. We follow the shouty Greek Themistocles as he attempts to defeat the alluring Persian Naval genius Artemisia. The odds seems stacked against them but they have a few tricks up their sleeve etc etc.
This film isn’t very good. With one exception everything about it is mediocre. The story is dull. The action scenes are… dull. The cinematography fails where it worked in 300; It looks like crap. I don’t think the same level of care has gone into making it look stylish. Sometime I struggled to see people’s faces, as if the filter had been applied without any thought. This, in a darkened cinema with a huge, very bright screen, is not good. The performances were lackluster too, especially from people not central to the plot. Turns out shouting when running at your opponent seems vaguely laughable when your heart’s not in it. Nobody seems to give a shit, well as a result neither do I.
There was one redeeming factor, however; Eva Green. She played villainess Artemisia with such gusto and menace that it actually saves the film. There’s a sex scene which she manages to make absoloutely transfixing. It’s mad, erotic and frenetic. It’s one of the best sex scenes I’ve ever seen in a film, and it’s all because of her. She’s got so many emotions bubbling under her skin in this role, I just couldn’t stop watching her. At one point she cuts off a man’s head and kisses it on the lips; the fact she makes this genuinely disturbing and revealing rather than just stupid, is a triumph. Judging by everyone else, she probably would have got away with putting less effort into this but the fact she did meant I didn’t waste my 90 minutes.