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300 Blazes to Glory

Category: 300 Reviews
Article Date: March 20, 2007 | Publication: Winnipeg Sun | Author: KYLE SMALE, FOR SUN MEDIA

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There's something to watching an exercise in futility. 300 speeds by, skimming through its characterization, and gets into what movie -goers came for quite quickly.

It is almost obtrusive, though it does get the message across that the Spartans are charging into their deaths with no lack of haste.

The thousand nations of Persia descended upon Sparta several thousand years ago. There are options: Kneel to the god-king Xerxes, or what is essentially the suicide option--fight.

Unable to get the sacred council's approval for all-out war, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) finds a loophole and takes a handful of his best to Thermopylae, where they plan to hold a ridge for as long as possible.

While Leonidas spouts bold, ancient sarcasm half-written for the trailer, his Queen (Lena Headey) fights corruption and lethargy at home, doing everything in her power -- and I do mean everything -- to send backup for the brave Spartans whittling down the churning mass of dark skin and sharp swords that tumbles toward them.

300 paints an interesting picture of the stark contrast between doing what's right and doing what's easy. We understand the many characters who stand back, not wanting to go near the debate.

Though we feel the helplessness as the hands of diplomacy and battle hold fast to protect democracy, not one person in any theatre could say they would avoid the easy route.

More gold than you can lift, beautiful concubines --it's fair to say the pleasures of a society outweigh its ideals, both now and then. This makes the sacrifice of Leonidas and his men all the more meaningful, for we know we could never bother.

Make no mistake, 300 is a visceral film and aspires to be little else.

Gerard Butler digs into his role and doesn't hold back on yelling various battle cries we've heard before.

Every frame is a beautiful CGI painting, but every frame is also a bubbling cauldron of chaos, hacking and slashing sped up and slowed down wherever it would look the best.

This film may win a Taurus for its choreography but it seeks no Oscars.

That's how it should be.

Leonidas and his men didn't charge into a lose-lose battle for statues or golden crypts.

300 may be a ham-and-cheese sandwich, but it's the best I've ever sampled.

It gets four-out-of-five stars


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