"300" opens to mixed reviews: Epic lives up to hype

Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: March 14, 2007 | Publication: The Hawk | Author: Michael Stirm
Publication/Article Link:http://media.www.sjuhawknews.com/media/storage/paper763/news/2007/03/14/Entertainment/300-Opens.To.Mixed.Reviews.Epic.Lives.Up.To.Hype-2774257.shtml

Ripped from the pages of Frank Miller's graphic novel, the much-anticipated Spartan epic "300" charges into theatres with spear in hand, ready to meet hoards of epic-starved movie-goers.

Released on March 9 in theatres and IMAX nationwide, this latest Frank Miller adaptation indulges viewers with all the stylistic action sequences and uninhibited brutality they've come to expect from the acclaimed graphic-novelist.

The film, based on Miller's novel of the same title, provides a surprisingly accurate account of the Spartans' heroic last stand at the Battle of Thermopylae. Against insurmountable odds, 300 Spartans, led by their King Leonidas, face off against a massive Persian army.

The Persian armies and Mediterranean landscapes are rendered in superb detail, and the battle scenes, though far from numerous, unfold majestically in slow motion, capturing the dance of flesh and steel in all its glory. Many of the people, places, and events in the movie are taken directly from the histories of Sparta and ancient Greece.

For example, the Ephors, a council of Spartan Elders, appear early on in the film when Leonidas consults them about the Persian threat, though their nature and appearance are darker and more sinister than their historical counterparts.

The cast of "300" features several veterans to the epic-movie genre, including the Spartan narrator Delios, played by David Wenham, who appeared in "The Lord of the Rings", and Captain Artemis, played by Vincent Regan, who assumed a similar role next to Brad Pitt in "Troy".

Gerard Butler plays the starring role as the legendary Spartan King Leonidas. The film opens with his training as a boy, narrated by Wenham, and features a compelling musical score, with emphasis on drums and choir.

The opening scenes serve as a fitting introduction to the harsh, militaristic society of ancient Sparta, a way of life which serves as the motivating factor behind the Spartans' heroic actions over the course of the film.

At one point, after suffering the loss of a loved one, a Spartan warrior goes into a frenzied killing spree, lopping off arms and legs of Persian fighters in his path.

Since its release, the film has met with mixed reviews. The film's overly-cartoonish appearance is a common grievance among negative reviews. Indeed, "300" was filmed almost entirely on "blue screen", that is, with digitally-created backgrounds.

However, what these reviewers fail to realize is that the exaggerated realism of the film is a tribute to Frank Miller's unique style.

Like its predecessor, "Sin City," "300" is an artistic foray into the ultra-violent world of a graphic-novel.

Fans of Millers' work will notice that each individual scene is matched with a corresponding cell from the graphic novel. Watching "300" provides viewers with the rare opportunity to experience a graphic novel, complete with all the bells and whistles of a big-budget Hollywood movie.

While "300" may not stand among the greatest of epics, it represents an important cinematic achievement and director Zack Snyder deserves credit for his masterful translation of Frank Miller's work to the big screen.