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Category: 300 Reviews
Article Date: February 12, 2007 | Publication: The Heights | Author: Stuart Pike

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Visually addictive, audibly vigorous, and stylistically ballsy - director Zack Snyder's adaptation of the graphic novel 300 is easily one of the most anticipated films of 2007. And, luckily for us, it's almost here.

Snyder's last hit (and his only one so far), the remake of Dawn of the Dead, scored big with its mix of gruesome action, likable cast, and unmistakable attitude. 300's carrying the same hard R-rating that Dawn did, but it looks to be an entirely different romp this time around.

Filmed entirely on a blue screen - well, 90 percent at least, the other 10 percent was green screen - Gerard Butler admitted that the filming process was quite a "leap of faith," during a teleconference with The Heights and other news agencies last Saturday.

"It was all filmed in one big, bloody warehouse, which was weird," said Butler, who plays King Leonidas. "Working in the blue screen, you realize you have to rely on the guy next to you."

The original graphic novel, written and illustrated by Frank Miller - who's also responsible for the source material behind 2005's Sin City, a massive film achievement for fans of the original literature - explored the Battle of Thermopylae, an actual battle that found 300 Spartan warriors fending off the entire Persian army.

Referred to as "a ferocious retelling," 300 adopts the same approach that director Robert Rodriguez took with Sin City. Snyder and his cohorts filmed the movie indoors and added CGI later on, duplicating the graphic novel almost entirely shot-for-shot. Snyder said that these techniques allowed them to "get closer to the actual look that Frank had."

"We take Frank's frame, and then try and make them real," he elaborated. And, as the trailer exhibits, the look definitely works - more than that, it looks pretty damn cool.

For those who might make foolhardy assumptions and compare it to recent sandal-and-sword flops like Troy or Alexander, Snyder offers his own perspective.

"With 300, you're talking about a movie that does attempt, at least visually, to reinvent the genre. We're coming at it from a different angle."

And what angle is that? So far, and from the director's frequent use of the word, it seems like it's the cool one. Rampaging elephants, scantily clad Persian slave girls, and big buff Spartan baddasses - what more could anyone want?

Just in case anyone was unsure (and I was), I asked Scotland-born Butler to confirm that the killer (literally) physique he had toned was all his own, and that the muscles were not CGI-enabled.

"They're real," he answered, laughing. "They were hard to get!"

Hard, indeed - the six hours a day, seven-month long period type of hard. But, Butler says that was the most important part of preparing for the role.

"First and foremost has to be the physicality," said Butler. "It is epic, it is big, it is larger than life."

Although he's had only a few noteworthy roles in the past years, his thick Scottish accent lends weight to his already weighty role in the film - as the king of a warrior nation-state in ancient Greece. But don't think Butler's not concerned with, you know, the deep stuff.

"You got to give the movie its heart and soul," said Butler.

Despite this "heart and soul," Snyder made sure to relay the notion that he's primarily interested in entertaining people. "The truth is, I just want to make something cool, I don't care where it comes from."

His attitude obviously plays its part in the type of films he has made thus far. 300 may not win any Best Picture nods, but it's bound to be one of the most entertaining films of the year. Of course, when I mentioned the possibility of high grosses, Snyder quickly announced, "I'm knocking on a lot of wood right now, by the way."

Personally, I don't think there needs to be any wood knocking. It may not boast a recognizable ensemble like Sin City did, and yes, it's being released in the typically slow season of late winter, and OK, recent ancient world epics like Alexander didn't exactly make us want to go see any more buff dudes in togas but 300 may just be the spark that launches us back into springtime and back into the territory that Lord of the Rings made cool again not so long ago.


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