Ooo boy..where to start with this one. This movie was bad. Not as bad as Battleship, but still really bad. The only two redeeming qualities, at all, were the "R" rating and how thankfully short it was. Not even the lovely Eva Green could turn this flat, awful, bloody movie into anything near a success.
The movie begins with Cersei Lannister, I mean Gorgo (Lena Headey) giving a speech in a poorly armored dress. She begins to give a us a history lesson about the first Persian invasion of Greece as this movie starts, detailing the events before the first 300. We are introduced at this time to Themistocles. He is the very vanilla bad ass that shoots a bow and kills Darius I, Xerxes father. The script thought it prudent to straddle the 300 timeline, making this movie both a prequel and a sequel. This choice however was not a prudent one.
There is certainly a little more overt "magic" in this movie. We see Xerxes pre-glamification. We see his magic steam house that gives him a shitload of piercings. There are also some quasi demonic looking beasts and sailors working the Persian ships. This all really gets glossed over as the movie tries to stick close to the actual histories, but it should have left that at the door and just went full bore swords-and-sandals fantasy
I really do not know how to describe how silly and chaotic this movie gets. Somewhere in the middle, through scenes of epic rowing and speed up-slow down shots of slaves getting whipped, I am not really sure if Themistocles is a brilliant and canny admiral, or the Persians just did not feel like fighting. Then Themistocles gets blown up, and it seems hopeless....for about four seconds. Suddenly Sparta has a giant navy out of no where and Cersei stabs a bunch of people. All this on top the movie being way too serious. No one says anything funny! There was one moment of humor that was actually pretty good; it happens during the weirdest and most superfluous sex scene that has ever been filmed. Why would she bang the good guy, it doesn't make any sense! By "She" I am referring to Eva Greene as the main antagonist, who is a Greek woman named Artemisia! She has a Red Sonja origin and vows to burn Greece as she is raised by a kindly Persian guy that trains her. And get this, the Persian guy that trains and raises her is the guy Leonidas kicks into the random bottomless pit in the town square in Sparta...since when did that guy have any sympathy!
All in all, Eva Green stood alone at the Hot Gates to try to save this movie. Alas, the forces of mediocrity were too great for one actress to turn the tide. She gave an evil twist to every line. And even when the script made her character almost turn on a dime at the end for no reason, she had an evil grace to her that makes the aforementioned Cersei Lannister look like a playful kitten. That being said, this movie remains terrible. It drones in a hum-drum march through the plot. There are no actual characters, everyone is flat and awful. Every Greek takes off his helmet in the middle of battle which is weird. Overall, it just falls flat. My advice...wait for a netflix release...when you are too sick to do anything else but stare blankly at bad CGI blood and sweet abs and/or boobs, whichever you like better.