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Review: 300

Category: 300 Reviews
Article Date: March 25, 2007 | Publication: | Author: Adam Mast

Posted by: stagewomanjen

Grade: B

300 is not a history lesson. Let's get that out of the way right up front. I've read articles where history scholars have taken 300's historical accuracy to task. That shit just cracks me up. 300 isn't a history lesson. It's an in your face, visually sumptuous, straight up, adrenalin pumping epic. It's one true goal is to show you a world you've never seen before, and it pulls it off in grand fashion.

The film is based on a graphic novel by the ultra talented Frank Miller (Sin City), and it was directed by Zack Snyder, a delirious movie geek who won over a rather hostile crowd not but two years ago with his re-imagining of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (I for one, still prefer the original, but I enjoyed Snyder's take–particularly the first ten minutes). Snyder emerges as a sure handed visual stylist with his adaptation of 300, and geeks the world over can rejoice at the box-office pleasures this film is enjoying. It's been a long road for Frank Miller and it's nice to see the man enjoying much deserved cinematic success, and without his shit being compromised.

300 tells the story of Leonidas (Gerard Butler), the ruler of an undermanned Spartan army who would ultimately lead his brothers to take on a Persian squad much bigger in size. The end result is a bombastic spectacle that will surely give you the most bang for your buck.

One simply has to marvel at the visuals on display in this movie. Incorporating the same digital technology used to bring Sin City to life, 300 paints it's tale on a much larger canvas. It features thousands of soldiers, breathtaking vistas, violent ocean waters, and bizarre creatures of all shapes and sizes.

On the human end, we have a mostly alpha male cast, ripped to perfection. Lead by a charismatic and bigger than life Gerard Butler, this pack of game actors reportedly went through a rigorous work out regime (along with director Zack Snyder), and the end result is not only a good looking cast, but one with dynamite chemistry.

Strangely, the best performance comes courtesy of the single female lead in the cast, Lena Headey. She's drop dead gorgeous and fittingly strong as Leonidas' Queen. She is to Leonidas what Adrian was to Rocky. She firmly put's to test that age old theory, that behind every great man is a woman.

300 is incredibly graphic (if you'll pardon the pun) and I love that about it. While the blood sprays excessively, it's in a very cartoonish way. In terms of all out brutality, Apocalypto still reigns supreme, but that movie showcases violence in a much more realistic manner. 300 is supposed to be over the top.

Does everything come up roses? Well, to be completely honest, this isn't the end all to be all of epic adventures. I believe some of the guys over at are calling it the best pure geek out movie in the last ten years. While I wouldn't go that far (my money is still on Lord of the Rings, Sin City, and Pan's Labyrinth), it is an amazing film experience, most notably from a visual standpoint. If you took away the striking visuals though, you'd essentially be left with Ridley Scott's Gladiator-- pumped up on steroids.

Not to further knock this exceptional film, I also could have done without the seemingly unnecessary off screen narration. From what I gather, it's sole purpose is to pump up the mythological factor. Whatever the case may be, it was unneeded.

In all fairness, I enjoyed this film more than Gladiator because of it's flashy, pulpy, bigger than life bravado. A movie about Spartans should be bigger than life. Gladiator was always a little too mundane for my tastes. Having said that, I wouldn't put 300 in the same league as a movie like Mel Gibson's Braveheart (that film had a much deeper emotional core), even though both flicks have quite a bit in common. As for a full on geeked out opus, I wouldn't necessarily say I liked this picture more than Sin City either. That adaptation had a far more colorful screenplay.

Still, 300 is so big on so many levels, it really must be seen to be believed. It smacks of a pure passion for film as an art form. It's also the sweetest of love letters to Frank Miller. It really is a must see, and if given the opportunity, see 300 in Imax. It really is a marvel to behold.

With only his second feature, Zack Snyder proves himself to be a major talent-- one that movie geeks and casual film goers can both appreciate. Next up for the gung ho film maker? The long awaited big screen adaptation of The Watchman. I can't wait to see what he does with that. Until then, Greece is the word!


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