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'300' stuns with action and beauty

Category: 300 Reviews
Article Date: March 15, 2007 | Publication: The Daily Atheneaum, West Virginia University | Author: Kathryn LaGamba
Source: The Daily Atheneaum, West Virginia University.

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After seeing the adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel ''Sin City'' on the big screen in 2005, I was very excited about the announcement and arrival of ''300.'' I was not disappointed in the least.

''300'' is a film about the Spartan Battle of Thermopylae against the Persians in 480 B.C., when 300 Spartans had to hold off a million Persian troops to give Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) more time to persuade the bureaucracy to send more troops. The Spartans use their superior techniques, training and a witty strategic location to prevent the massive army from gaining any ground.

The first thing that the viewer notices is the similarity to Miller's own graphically stylized illustrations. The shots look like something out of a comic book. It's a visual masterpiece, and the kudos heaped on Zack Snyder are well deserved. It's very artistic and unique, and while it looks like a real-life version of a comic book, it doesn't necessarily appear cartoonish.

While there are many battle scenes, they never drag on endlessly but contribute to important dimensions in illustrating just what made these men such an elite fighting force. Each scene is compact and efficient with a few moments of humor scattered among severed heads and limbs.

Although there has been controversy about the violence in the movie, it is very stylized, reminiscent of ''V for Vendetta,'' and it doesn't make the viewer turn away in disgust. Those complaining about violence should know that it is a movie about war in a period when killing was a standard; obviously, a war movie is going to be violent.

Headey had the opportunity to play one of the most kick-ass female roles this decade. Her character is vigorously independent, complementing her counterpart, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler). She leads her country and makes sacrifices on the home front to gain support for her husband's battlefield pursuits that are more heart-wrenching than those of her king. It is refreshing to see a believable strong female character grace the screen without losing her drive when chaos strikes.
Butler's character, King Leonidas, dominates and gives us a multidimensional king whose love of his country, soldiers, child, wife and freedom are the motivational force behind making the ultimate sacrifice. Butler convincingly portrays a man who doesn't need expensive toys to convey his manhood; he is as intimidating as they come. There is no sense of insecurity, no fear, no doubt or denial, no flaws -- just pure, unrestrained power. He's incomparable to any other fictional character.
''300'' is a film that demonstrates a novel cinematographic technique unlike anything Hollywood has ever produced. While the plot suffers a little due to the focus on action, the film is breathtaking and the acting is extraordinary. Movie viewers are sure to leave the theater stunned.

Grade: A

 


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