Great costumes, action design, and artistic direction can't save it.
I went to see this solely for the involvement of director Tarsem and costume designer Eiko Ishioka, to see what these visionaries would bring to a swords & sandals action fantasy. They brought what I expected, and made the film worth looking at. What they didn't do is make it worth watching.
The film's biggest problem is with its script. While many will complain that it doesn't adhere to Greek mythic tradition, the real problem is that the writing duo can't make us care for any of the characters, and can't figure out what message (if any) the film should convey. Heroes are directionless, enemies' motivations are murky, and every scene seems to exist only to bring things inches closer to The Big Battle. It's hard to stomach.
There are some impressive action scenes, some interesting special effects, some novel artistic interpretations of Greek images. The film just looks fantastic throughout. But without any redeeming message, all of those qualities come off as gilded foil wrapping on a spoiled blood sausage. Violent, bloody, hateful, misogynistic, and impossible to recommend except for occasional freeze-frames to be studied in film art class.
This title contains:
Violence & scariness