300 - Zack Snyder

Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: February 28, 2007 | Publication: Entertainment Wise.com | Author: James Luxford
Publication/Article Link:http://www.entertainmentwise.com/review?id=28596

After the greatness of Sin City, and his heavy influence on the recent Batman reboot, it would have been understandable if Frank Miller had wanted an all-star cast for his swords & sandals epic. But no. For the next project in the Miller canon, a relatively untested director, Dawn of the Dead helmer Zack Snyder, was put in place. The cast? Well, thereís Faramir from Lord of the Rings (David Wenham) and, er, the bloke who was the phantom in the recent Phantom of the Opera movie (Gerard Butler ó no, I didnít see it either). However, this turns out to be a masterstroke, as unlike films like Troy, you donít spend the first hour star spotting, which can take you out of a film and ultimately ruin it.

The story is based on the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, where 300 Spartans stood against the seemingly endless hoards of Persian army. The King of Sparta, Lionidas (Gerard Butler), is faced with a difficult problem- the Persian army is tearing its way through Greece, making slaves of everyone in its way. Sparta is next on the list, but the high priests of Sparta- deformed corrupt monsters that have a hold on everyone through the superstitions of the time- say the army cannot go to war. Breaking his own laws, Lionidas and 300 warriors go down to the coast where the Persian ships are coming. Armed with superior fighting skills and a greater knowledge of the land, they intend to fend off over a thousand times their own number. Whilst back in Sparta, the Queen (Lena Headey) attempts to hold together her kingdom now that the corrupt politicians have begun to come out of the woodwork.

An epic in every sense of the word, 300 leaps off the pages of the graphic novel and comes to life. There are so many elements to this film that make your jaw drop, beginning with the way it looks. Itís as though every frame was painted on a canvas ó using the computer technology that last yearís ďA Scanner DarklyĒ and 2005ís Sin City used, only to a different end ó to give it a look unlike anything youíll see this year. The running narrative explains the background without being intrusive, explaining how the Spartan man is trained for war pretty much from birth, and building the 300 up as super-soldiers.

The performances are equally powerful ó Butler plays Lionidas with a tragic irony. Heís a warrior king frustrated by politicians, and ultimately forced to make an example to his country (the stand of the 300 is believed to be the story that spurred ancient Greece to fight the Persians). Headey plays the loyal Queen, who is as headstrong as her husband, but her sex means even though she is a Queen, she has very little power without Lionidas.

It is beyond macho ó like watching all 6 Rocky movies at once ó and if youíre not into Swords & Sandals movies it wonít be your cup of tea. However this a tremendous movie, and to dismiss it as just another epic would be to miss out on the future of cinema.