However resistant you may have been to the bludgeoning charms of Zack Snyder's 300, you would have trouble denying the film's influence. Half a dozen semi-classical cable series – each set in a universe that plays by the rules of the comic book – sprung up in 300 's wake within apparent minutes.
Now, with the gloomy inevitability of ancient myth, a lesser sequel has been conjured from the earlier movie's ashes. Somewhat surprisingly, the film-makers have taken their lead from the Dirk Bogarde Doctor series and the Speed franchise by setting their film largely in ships. It's 300 at Sea and it's not entirely terrible.
It's not out of the question that someone ignorant of ancient history could learn something from 300: Rise of an Empire, but the facts are buried so deep in visceral baloney that such an enterprise would be akin to picking the undigested pieces of sweetcorn from a large stool sample.
Anyway, Rise of an Empire deals with the second Persian invasion of Greece during the fifth century BC. Though no less homoerotic than 300, the sequel is mostly concerned with a female queen and general.
Played with all eyebrows ablaze by Eva Green, this Artemisia was born in Greece but turned against her home country when her village was sacked during a civil war.
Raised by Persian King Darius (Igal Naor), Artemisia has grown into an avenging fury of cyclonic proportions. Over in the old country, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey, back from 300), brings a less volatile school of leadership to the Athenian cause.
It is probably some sort of sacrilege to suggest that Ms Green is actually a better lead than Gerard Butler was in 300. She isn't quite as loud, but she does have more than one (maybe as many as three) speeds to her gearbox. The battles at sea are impressively lucid and – though the computer graphics always look like computer graphics – the film makes a virtue of its own flashy artificiality.
Rise of an Empire does, of course, ultimately descend into a hellish morass of saltwater, crashing timber and hacked-off extremities. It's horrible, but rather good fun.