Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: April 14, 2007 | Publication: The Film Asylum | Author: Vaughan Dyche
Greek legend melds with the fantastical imagination of comic book writer Frank Miller as his epic novel comes ferociously to life in 300, a retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which 300 valiant Spartanís fought to the death against a massive Persian army. Zack Snyder takes a break from the putrefied zombies of his Dawn of the Dead remake and heads into ancient Greece for his second full feature as he takes the helm (and co-screenwriting credits) of this action epic.
Gerard Butler plays King Leonidas, the Spartan king who can clearly see the impending danger to his people as the dark forces ofKing Xerxesí Persian army amass on the coast of Greece. Having dealt the Persian emissaryís a fatal reply to their insulting offer of the total surrender of Sparta, Leonidas gathers 300 warriors to head into battle against a far superior army whose numbers reach into the thousands. Using the terrain to their advantage, the 300 brave men stand strong in the mouth of the Thermopylae passage as the might of the Persian army descend.
Utilising the same blue/green screen technology as Frank Millerís last big screen adaptation Sin City, 300 looks every bit like a cinematic comic book of gigantic scale. Everything about it is magnified 10 times larger than real life, from its raging battle scenes, monstrous beasts and the superhero strength of the Spartan forces; this is a film which is intent on entertaining the viewer with a serious slant on style and frantic action. Anyone slightly concerned that the reliance on technology would reduce the impact of the cinematography should cease their worrying, 300 has a cinematic style all of its own with angry tones of stormy greys and thunder-cloud oranges melting into virtual environments which have been created perfectly for this action orientated melee.
Gerard Butler is perfectly cast as King Leonidas and offers a quite remarkable screen presence thanks mainly to his broad and booming Scottish accent and hulking physique. It has to be said (although I would first like to make it clear that I am a happily married man) that the physical prowess on display amongst the cast of 300 is outstanding. The dedication by various members of the Spartan clan is clear and whilst a few touch-ups around the stomach area might have been called for, their dedication to the gym during pre-production has certainly paid massive dividends towards that all important comic book exaggeration. However, the one area of exaggeration which I could have done without is the ridiculous over-egged accent of David Wenhamís character Dilios, but seeing that this is the only criticism of the film, Iím sure Wenham will forgive me.
300 isnít a particularly well travelled film having only a few locations in which to tell its story, but between the blood stained sands of the coastal battlegrounds and the simplistic luxury of Sparta, very little else is required to expand on the films setting. This is a critical point, especially for a comic book adaptation which puts more emphasis on its characters and action rather than panoramic cinematography of rolling hills and other such frivolities. Itís this mindful attitude towards Millers source material which elevates 300 to be primarily an action film with tinges of fantasy rather than a period war drama, offering more similarities to Lord of the Rings than it does to Troy or Alexander.
300 isnít a clever film and doesnít take its character development particularly seriously (after all, they all die so why bother) but it is one of the best action films to hit the big screen this year. If youíre an intellectual type who gets more pleasure from pointing out historic inaccuracies rather than enjoying a bloody good yarn, then youíd better stay at home with your cup of coco. Frankly, coming from a director whose last movie was an action horror about the living dead, what did you expect? For everyone else, itís your turn to take a stand Ė in line and get a ticket for 300.
9 / 10