So, I saw it last night, and I had THE BEST FUCKING TIME. Seriously. I haven't giggled that much during a movie since "Pacific Rim." This movie is everything I wanted it to be and more. Spoilers ahead, if you care — as if spoilers could somehow ruin this nutballs adventure for you.
Okay, first of all, I am not going to talk about how this movie is problematic. Of course it's fucking problematic. Problematic in terms of gender, ethnicity, history, race, culture, sexuality, etc. Turn off that part of your brain if you are able.* No, this is not going to pass the Bechdel test. Also, not for nothing, it's basically problematic in ways that hold a mirror to society or whatever. Lots of mostly-naked Athenians yelling things about WAR and FREEDOM as a scary middle eastern empire approaches and if it wasn't ancient Greece you might expect a giant bald eagle to swoop down from the skies and scream "NO HOMO....JK."
Second, to hell with people who are talking about how this is historically inaccurate. OF COURSE IT'S INACCURATE. Did these people also watch "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" and complain? Because the relationship between the actual history of the Greco-Persian wars and "300: Rise of an Empire" is only slightly cozier. I actually am super interested in the historical Artemisia, but I don't care about how she's been redone here, because Eva Green is AWESOME in this movie. I am now planning to wear one or more of her outfits when the time comes for me to defend my thesis. She fights the final battle with a badass recurve bow and double swords and DINOSAUR SPIKES ON HER BACK.
The most important thing to remember while watching this movie is that it cares about jack shit besides entertaining the fuck out of you. If you liked getting sucked in to the hyper-stylized action in 300, this one amps it up by at least one order of magnitude, because it's about a series of naval battles, so there's all kinds of crazy sea imagery with boats smashing into each other and monstrous fish and POV arrows flying across the sea and fiery oil slicks and a literal "tidal wave of heroes blood" and a HORSE LEAPING FROM BOAT TO BOAT. By the way, in case this isn't clear to you, obviously see this in 3D.
The plot doesn't really matter. Seriously, you don't have to follow any nuance, because there isn't any. All you need to remember, for the entire 2+ hours of the movie, is that the big bad Persians hate FREEDOM and are trying to kill all the Greeks, especially the Athenians, because FREEDOM. You can roll your eyes at this conceit now, if necessary. It's okay to do so. Anyway, the Athenians are trying to get everybody else to play nice, especially Sparta, but everyone keeps being like, "nah" and so what the movie focuses on is that the Athenians are going to fight a series of seemingly impossible battles, led by their hero, Themistocles. If it is too hard to remember that 1) Themistocles is the protagonist; 2) Themistocles is the leader, the movie helpfully color-codes him for you by putting him in a blue cloak. (See above.)
There is lots of slow mo and beautiful CGI blood. There is, obviously, a lot of homoeroticism (when we first see Cersei, I mean Queen Gorga of Sparta, she asks Themistocles if he's come to "stroke his cock watching real men train," and there are SO MANY INTENSE KNOWING STARES between soldiers wearing tiny leather briefs) and straight eroticism, and basically pitch-perfect combos of violence and sex. In one key scene where Themistocles is asked to come aboard Artemisia's barge for negotiation, I was sitting there thinking how predictable-yet-entertaining it was that they were going to portray Artemisia's attempt to sway Themistocles as a thinly veiled seduction scene and...OH NO WAIT ACTUALLY THEY'RE JUST GOING TO BANG. It's incredible and hilarious and perfectly WTF, and sets up a pretty great burn during the final Artemisia vs. Themistocles showdown when she tells him "You fight harder than you fuck." Their chemistry on all fronts rules the day (although Artemisia is obviously the best). For more on this scene, which was totally one of the crazy highlights of the movie, see the Vulture writeup, which I totally agree with.
The movie makes zero attempt to do anything but be off-the-wall ridiculous and entertaining. It drags in a couple places and the few shifts between timelines can be slightly distracting at times, but largely, it succeeds at this goal. Even the cut-to-credits song is perfect in that it is either a meta-comment or a silly misappropriation of an anti-war song. It's the perfect punchline. My recommendation: see the fuck out of this thing if you are okay with letting it be the beautiful, terrible, violent, sexy, bloody, fucked up, dick-swinging kickass disaster that it is. This is not the movie America needs, but it is the one it deserves.
*ETA: This is tongue in cheek. I am well aware that there are problems and that they are likely worth discussing. For better or worse, this is the most American movie ever, and it's not even about America.