Film Review: 300
Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: February 26, 2008 | Publication: Newshub 2007/08 | Author: Editor
Graphic novelist Frank Millerís artistry returns to the big screen this spring with a film set a million miles away from the shadowy streets of Sin Cityís Basin City.
Directed by Zack Snyder, (Dawn of the Dead, 2004) 300 takes us back to Ancient Greece and to the legendary Battle of Thermoplyae. It is 480 BC and King Leonidas of Sparta (Gerard Butler) and 300 of his personal bodyguards are all that stands between one million advancing Persians, led by the man-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and the enslavement of the entire Mediterranean basin.
Like Sin City, 300 is filmed in a virtual studio, meaning that the action was shot against a blue screen and the background and surrounding environment were then filled in later by CGI. This time however, there are no shadowy alleys, or sleazy bars, but dramatic coastal cliffs and hillsides of golden, gently blown wheat that seem to stretch on into infinity.
This is a film, it seems, set in those same dreamy fields where Russell Croweís Maximus Decimus Meridius once wandered. The result is that stylistically, 300 both retains a sense of Millerís original graphic illustrations, whilst at the same time looking like nothing you will have seen in the cinema before. What really defines 300 though, is its action.
If people arenít being hoofed into bottomless pits theyíre being decapitated, disemboweled or dismembered. With 300 there really are no-holds-barred. Snyder has taken the energy and intensity of Millerís originals, combined them with everything that made Braveheart so overwhelming; the gore, the sounds and the slaughter and dragged them all blood-soaked into the 21st Century. Add to this a progression of immortal warriors, mutants, and suitable creatures plucked from myths of the age and you might get a sense of what 300 is like.
Certainly, for those of you who seek realism from a film, (and you must be on a whole pretty disappointed with this genre if you do) this film probably isnít worth watching. However, if you give the pomp, valour and camaraderie a chance, then you might find yourself converted. As far as performances go, Butler as the heroic Leonidas pretty much commands the film from the opening line until the close. Despite the fact that he stands around in his underwear all day, he comes across as an incredibly convincing warrior-king and people actually seem to take him seriously. Roderigo Santoroís Xerxes on the other hand is both irredeemably evil, and hopelessly and ridiculously camp. Imagine Prince clad in exotic jewellery with bizarre facial piercings and with a voice like a post Strepsil Darth Vader. Xerxes is pantomime at best. But it works.
Donít go into 300 expecting the characters to be in any way complex because theyíre not. You can pretty much take as granted that for as long as they appear on screen the Spartans will be valiant and loyal and the Persians malevolent and fantastical.
Whilst 300 wonít be winning any awards for its script or originality of characters, it remains a visually remarkable film. As with all epics, the same rules pretty much apply to 300 as they did to Lord of the Rings, Braveheart and Alexander: if you like a sense of the epic, youíll most probably enjoy this film. If on the other hand, you go into 300 expecting anything more than shield- crunching, head lopping, limb-hacking action then you are going to be sorely disappointed.
If you cried when Bambiís mother died, then this film definitely isnít for you.