From The Pitts: 300 Is a bloody, exciting good time

Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: March 26, 2007 | Publication: The Chaffey Breeze | Author: Thera Pitts
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Apparently the only option more appealing than watching half naked hotties soak up the sun at crazy beach parties during this year's spring break was watching half-naked hotties impale each other with spears. If 300's massive current box-office numbers prove anything, it's that people love violence. And, more refreshingly, people still love good movies.

Never before has a film this gory looked so darn pretty. The rich shades of red, gold silver and bronze splashed about the screen, the gorgeous cinematography and Gerard Butler's shimmery, sculpted abs all make 300's the best looking movie likely to come out this year.

For the four people who don't know, 300's is based on Frank Miller's epic graphic novel about the historic battle of Thermopylae. A mere 300 Spartan soldiers led by the proud king Leonidas (Butler, The Phantom of the Opera) fight an unauthorized, far outnumbered and seemingly hopeless battle against the vast Persian Army led by the narcissistic and flamboyant King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro, Love Actually) who threatens to conquer their land. Adapted rather faithfully from solid source material, 300 sounds almost as good as it looks, which is a difficult feat in a film which offers some of the most blatantly shocking images ever depicted on screen.

There are so many heroic characters, stirring fight scenes and big rousing "hell-yeah!" moments that you'll want to cheer good and loud knowing full well no one on screen can hear you. The story is equal parts grim and crowd-pleasing. So what if it's historically inaccurate? Even if Spartan soldiers didn't fight without armor and big fat guys didn't naturally have bone saws for hands back then, wouldn't history class be a lot more interesting if they did?

Zack Snyder's film, unlike recent Frank Miller's Adaptation Sin City, does not completely copy the comic book to the screen, mostly because that method would likely have resulted in a 45-minute movie. Everything that is in the book is in the film, but writers Snyder and Kurt Johnstad have added elements to flesh out the story that all work surprisingly well.

Although Leonidas had a wife in the book, her role was rather small. Here she is a larger presence and one of the film's best characters.

As the fearless queen Gorgo, Lena Headey (The Brother's Grimm) brings a much-needed sense of humanity and femininity to a film which could have been downright barbaric at times. Another fine addition is the character of sneeringly hateful Theron (Dominic West, The Forgotten) who challenges Gorgo's unflappable pride in one of the film's more brutal scenes.

Of course the characters straight out of the book are just grand as well, and the actors play them with a respectable amount of commitment and power. Butler makes a damn fine king. He brings the charismatic Leonidas breathtakingly to life. His raw passion in this role more than makes up for his sometimes goofy-sounding accent. David Wenham's performance as Dilios, Leonidas' right hand, man is also impressive and his sexy voice makes for great voiceover. Santoro plays the villain with an appropriate air of prissy confidence, and Andrew Tiernan, unrecognizable in impressively detailed freak show make-up is appropriately pathetic as a hunchback who aspires to be a war hero.

After the abomination that was The Number 23, it's good to find a number related movie that actually entertains. 300 is a war movie that mercilessly kicks the ass of other recent war movies, and it does so with a big, fat smile on its face.

If this Movie were a weapon, it would be...

***** A catapult
**** A spear
*** A slingshot
** A rock
* A sharp twig

Thera's Rating: ****