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An Epic Flick Guys Can Count On

Category: 300 News
Article Date: March 9, 2007 | Publication: Tampa Tribune | Author: Bob Ross

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Mar. 9--Based on fact, inspired by a graphic novel and filmed in startling, computer-generated glory, "300" envisions a world of pain. It's a tale of noble sacrifice and brutal combat that will thrill over-aged adolescents everywhere.

Drenched in testosterone, designed like a fetishist convention and destined to be the guy-flick of the year, it's a bloody but beautiful battle epic -- a magnificent celebration of movie machismo.

It didn't even require a cast of thousands. That's because director Zack Snyder ("Dawn of the Dead" remake) and an army of special effects crews created almost every image.

Only the human actors (and maybe a few horses) are real -- and they are enhanced in every aspect, from eerily glowing eyes to the most perfectly toned abdominal muscles this side of a Chippendale show.

Set some 25 centuries ago, when Greek city-states were busy inventing Western civilization and the warfare that went with it, "300" is about the bravery of a few in the face of doom.

Comic book artist Frank Miller ("Sin City") saw the 1962 sword-and-sandal epic "The 300 Spartans" as a youngster and it made a lasting impression. Miller was faithful to the lore, and Snyder brings Miller's visual style to life.

It's the story of how Spartan warriors, outnumbered about 1,000 to one, held off a huge Persian invasion long enough, and bravely enough, that other Greeks were inspired to mobilize their own defenses in time to repel the mighty King Xerxes.

Rodrigo Santoro, who was in "Love Actually" and who plays Paulo on TV's "Lost," portrays the Persian as an effete megalomaniac, wrapped in gold chains from head to toe with at least a dozen piercings on his baby-smooth face.

His heroic adversary is Spartan King Leonidas, a roaring ruler who leads by example, slashing his way through enemy formations like a machete-wielding sugar cane cutter. Gerard Butler, who played the masked outcast in "The Phantom of the Opera," is the film's central character -- a liberty-loving patriot and great tactician.

Leonidas' wife, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), is as gutsy as he is. She subscribes to the Spartan no-surrender code, and she handles trouble on the home front while her mate is away. Dominic West ("The Forgotten" and HBO's "The Wire") plays Theron, a disloyal schemer who plays politics with Sparta's security.

But the heart of the film beats in its gorgeously executed battle sequences, which feature screen-filling arrays of wild beasts, deadly archers and silver-masked marauders. The action is full of decapitations, dismemberments and impalements. Blood sprays in elegant, slow-motion patterns. Using surreal color schemes and unstinting energy, Snyder makes "300" into a nonstop thrill show. It doesn't look real, but that's part of the fun.


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