NR Digital

Once More Unto the Breach

by Ross Douthat

A review of 300: Rise of an Empire

There were three main criticisms of Zack Snyder’s 300 when it surprised everyone by becoming a massive hit seven years ago. The first was that it was lousy; the second was that it was neoconservative propaganda; the third was that it was politically confused.

The first critique was understandable enough: Snyder’s take on the battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans died to the man trying to slow the Persian invasion of Greece, was a historical epic purged of every note except bombast, with computer-generated visuals that were sometimes arresting but often felt like an assault, and so much slow motion that the occasional full-speed moments felt overcaffeinated. And its commercial success had unfortunate consequences in Hollywood, giving Snyder undeserved directing opportunities (including the most recent Superman movie, Man of Steel), inspiring a rash of terrible Greco-CGI extravaganzas (Clash of the Titans and so on), and forcing us all to pretend that Gerard Butler, who bellowed his way through the part of King Leonidas, is actually a movie star.

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