And the Berlin Prize for the Most Insane Frenzy of Bloodlust Goes To:

Category: 300 News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: February 15, 2007 | Publication: Telegraph.co.uk (Blog) | Author: Tim Robey
Publication/Article Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/02/16/bfberlin116.xml

Blood. Bellowing. Decapitations. These things were in short supply at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival until Zack Snyder's 300 was screened, reports Tim Robey

The famous last stand of the Spartan army at Thermopylae in 480BC has been filmed before, but never in quite such blistering, bombastic comic-book style.

300, adapted from Frank Miller's graphic novel, certainly does justice to the word "graphic". It's not playing in the main competition or it would be a shoo-in for best multiple impalings, and most insane frenzy of bloodlust.
Gerard Butler in 300
Heads will roll: Gerard Butler in the gruesome, graphic 300

It's kind of a blast and kind of exhausting. Snyder has made a film for audiences who thought Apocalypto could have done with a few more beheadings, or who wanted Mel Gibson's camera to linger for an extra second or two on nogginless bodies slumping to their knees and tumbling sideways. I lost count of those moments in Snyder's film, beaten around the temples myself by his state-of-the-art, digitally rendered visuals, and rather wondering which pile of corpses the old story was hiding under.

We have Leonidas, of course, famed chieftain of this 300-strong suicide squad, determined to whittle the Persian forces down by a thousand or two rather than make their onward charge into mainland Greece any easier. He's played by Gerard Butler, a heretofore unproven actor who seems like a fully-fledged movie star for the first time. He has the chops to make Leonidas proud, aggressive and assertive, a natural ruler, without coming across as a ranting blowhard.

You'd struggle even to register many of the other performances. Shot to look eight feet tall and with gold rings and chains protruding from every inch of his face, Rodrigo Santoro makes for a disconcertingly gay Xerxes.

He looks less likely to descend from his throne and cow his troops into obedience than to perform an impromptu lap dance for the Spartans. As Leonidas's wife, Queen Gorgo, whose job is to handle rapists and political intrigue back at the ranch, Lena Headey fills her shapely costumes attractively but stiffly.

300's core audience - pretty much the same as the one for the last Miller adaptation, Sin City - will doubtless thrill to Snyder's relentless, operatic carnage as if it's the coolest thing ever, and this is nothing if not an envelope-pushing visual achievement. But, if we're allowed to carp, there was surely a more stirring film to be made about these 300 legendary warriors, and one less shamelessly and adolescently glorifying their doomed martial code.