And the left doesn't like it at all. Many reviewers have panned "300" not on artistic grounds, or even on grounds of inanity, but on the grounds that the Spartans in the film are a bunch of jackbooted thugs; that the tyranny they fight is less tyrannical than Sparta; that good vs. evil is too simplistic. "His troops are like al Qaeda in adult diapers," writes Kyle Smith of the New York Post. "Keeping in mind Slate's Mickey Kaus' Hitler Rule -- never compare anything to Hitler -- it isn't a stretch to imagine Adolf's boys at a "300" screening, heil-fiving each other throughout and then lining up to see it again." A.O. Scott makes the obligatory racial point: "It may be worth pointing out that unlike their mostly black and brown foes, the Spartans and their fellow Greeks are white."
The Iranians don't like "300," either. Javad Shamqadri, an art adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, proclaims that "300" is "part of a comprehensive U.S. psychological war aimed at Iranian culture." "Following the Islamic Revolution in Iran," explains Shamqadri, "Hollywood and cultural authorities in the U.S. initiated studies to figure out how to attack Iranian culture … certainly, the recent movie is a product of such studies."
Of course, "300" is not meant to be a historically accurate portrayal of the battle of Thermopylae. It is a cartoonish movie with a simple theme -- a theme that resonates with the American public. It is no surprise that the Iranian regime -- the embodiment of evil in today's world -- objects to a movie depicting a conflict between ancient Western civilization and ancient Persian civilization as a conflict between good and evil. And it is not surprising that the left objects to any movie pitting freedom against tyranny and coming out squarely on the side of freedom.
"300" is not as morally murky as movies like "Syriana," "Babel" and "Kingdom of Heaven." The movie has many weaknesses, but its strength lies in its affirmation that there can be good, there can be evil, and that good must be willing to withstand evil's best efforts to annihilate it.