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300 Review

Category: 300 Reviews
Article Date: March 9, 2007 | Publication: andPOP | Author: Graham Silnicki
Source: http://www.andpop.com/article/8785

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Do not -- I repeat, DO NOT -- wait to see 300 on DVD. In fact, don't even settle for seeing it on anything smaller than an IMAX screen if possible. This film demands the biggest, loudest, most cinematically-enveloping environment to be fully enjoyed. And enjoy it you will; 300 has received more pre-release hype and praise than any film since Borat, and it deserves every ounce.

The film (adapted from Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name) recounts the Battle of Thermopylae. The fight pitted a small force of Spartan Greeks (300, as the legend has it) against a massive Persian army, ruled by the larger-than-life pseudo-God, Xerxes. The seemingly fearless Spartans, led by King Leonidis (played by Gerard Butler), use their superior fighting skills to put up much more of a fight than the Persians were expecting. And while the battle didn't win the Greco-Persian Wars for the Greeks, it bought them enough time to amass the naval force that would eventually lead to Xerxes' downfall.

You should not, however, go to this film expecting -- or wanting -- a history lesson. In its place, though, you'll get non-stop eye-candy in a vein similar to that of V for Vendetta or Frank Miller's Sin City. 300 is essentially like the best battle scenes from The Lord of the Rings movies, just ramped up on bloodthirsty adrenaline and drawn out across nearly two hours of screen time. Balancing this admittedly violent content is an ongoing subplot that focuses on Leonidis' wife, Queen Gorgo (a position played flawlessly by Lena Headey), and the stuggles she faces in Sparta while her husband is away fighting. It's not nearly enough of a focus to take away from the action, but it does provide occsionally-needed solace for your nerves.

300's visual style is truly nothing short of groundbreaking, with a richness of colour and contrast that makes it difficult to believe the film wasn't shot in some alternate universe with much more dramatic lighting than ours. In fact, the film's visuals come with a notable Canadian connection; though the vast majority of scenes were shot in front of a green screen, filming took place almost entirely in Montreal. And while there are some historial inaccuracies in 300, no one was chowing down poutine on-screen. Shame, really.

There are issues, though, including some fairly unsettling racialized imagery and stereotyping with the Persians, the seeming inability to cover Butler's Scottish accent, and the use of contemporary music occasionally verging on overkill (as in Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette").

But because 300 is not a film that aims to provoke much thought -- nor one that requires much mental aptitide to enjoy -- these flaws do litle to detract from the overall effect. Instead, 300 takes the best of action movies, combines it with a little history, and offers a movie that's simply amazing to watch.

Rating: 4.5*/5*

 


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