It’s been eight years since the release of Zach Snyder’s beefcake epic 300 put movie buffs on notice that the future of action cinematography was endless slow-motion, excruciating speed ramping, and ever more phony-baloney green-screen tableaux. That might not seem like a long time, but in Hollywood terms it’s a freaking eon. It only took two more years than that before Sony kicked Sam Raimi to the curb and rebooted the Spider-Man series entirely with a younger, cuter director. So maybe Zack Snyder is lucky Warner Bros. greenlighted a straightforward sequel to 300 rather than handing a remake to Fede Alvarez or somebody.
300, the ancient-Greek military adventure adapted from the graphic novel by Frank Miller, is drenched in sex and violence and boasts a repetitive, forward-reeling momentum that makes it feel like the longest videogame cut scene in history. (I kept thinking the bald dude from God of War would totally kick the Spartans’ asses.) If it were only brutish spectacle, executed with the inescapable élan that Miller’s stark and exciting combinations of word and image always brings to the printed page, it could be an invigorating diversion from the more nuanced, and infinitely more taxing, struggles of the real world. But with its fetishistic depiction of the nearly naked male body as nothing more or less than a merciless instrument of warfare, it fills a much-needed gap between gay porn and recruitment film.