According to Hollywood History the ancient Greek fighting machine consisted of half naked warriors, gym fit with biceps a-ripple and six packs glistening in the sun.
Gay guys will imagine they’ve died and gone to Heaven.
The Persians push the analogy further with a god king, dipped in gold, who surveys his multitudinous forces from a cliff top, uttering words of simpering banality. This regal figurehead is as camp as Liberace’s pillow puffer.
But wait! It’s not all homoerotic death dancing.
Artemisia (Eva Green), a victim of serial rape, now leads the Persian navy like a Playboy princess gagging for the sexual rush of brutal vengeance.
She goes into battle with a sword in each hand, wearing a flattering evening dress. Her best moment occurs after slicing through the neck of a handsome Greek. She kisses the dead man on the mouth before flinging his head into the auditorium where you are, with your 3D glasses.
The plot, for what it’s worth, is an excuse to indulge in fairly sensational warmongerage. The Persian are very strong. The Greeks, testing their new democratic rights to go to war or stay in bed, are short on cannon fodder – sorry, no cannons!
It’s David vs Goliath: The Rematch.
If the Spartans (led by a woman, by the way – three cheers for feminism!) don’t turn up, Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and his male chorus are toast.
“We choose to die on our feet rather than live on our knees,” he intones. Yeah, well ...
The dialogue hurts as much as an arrow in the groin.
“We are turning young men into memories.”
The film is about killing. The choreography, using different degrees of slow motion, is truly balletic and, despite the violent intensity of the subject matter, uses techniques honed by graphic novels to great effect.