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Movie Review - 300 (blog)

Category: 300 Reviews
Article Date: August 8, 2007 | Publication: | Author: Leslie Halpern

Posted by: stagewomanjen

In Ancient Greece, where males were trained to fight from the age of seven and bravery was considered more important than goodness, warriors were the most admired among men. Scarred and maimed from a lifetime of fighting, they looked forward to a "beautiful death in battle" as long as one condition was met: They must be remembered. Back then, memories were kept alive through the oral tradition of storytelling; today we have blockbuster, big-budget movies enhanced with computer-generated images to tell our stories.

And you will remember "300."

Using thousands of astonishing special effects and surprising visual perspectives, "300" recreates the historic battle of Thermopylae between 300 doomed Spartans led by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and the massive invading armies of Persia's King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). At Leonidas's side is his fiercely loyal Captain (Vincent Regan), who risks the life of his favorite son in an effort to preserve Spartan life.

Unlike the Arcadians, a ragtag group of craftsmen who temporarily aid the 300, Spartan warriors appear to have unique qualifications: They are proud to die for their country; believe in the credo "No retreat. No surrender;" and look fabulous in their tiny black briefs the required uniform of (this version of) the Spartan army. Persia seems to have its own qualifications: Warriors must eagerly bow at the feet of their king; agree to use magic when muscle fails; and be willing to polish Xerxes's thousands of gold body piercings.

While her husband fights a hopeless battle, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) has her own struggle to endure back in Sparta. She deals with the treachery and lechery of Theron (Dominic West) and the chauvinistic senate with whom she pleads for reinforcements to help the army of 300. Headey's subtle strength as the lovely queen nicely parallels the subtle gentleness of Butler's warrior king. Likewise, her purity makes West's portrayal of the villainous Theron seem that much filthier.

Based on Frank Miller's series for Dark Horse Comics that was later turned into a graphic novel, "300" provides state-of-the-art depictions of war-time atrocities through freeze frames, quick cuts, slow motion, blue-screen technology, and other cinematic sorcery. Although the sparse dialogue often derives its humor from understatement, the pounding instrumentals, clanging swords, beautiful bodies, hideous monsters, beastly behemoths, and startling visual effects sometimes stimulate to the point of sensory overload.

You will remember the muscled flesh of the bare-chested warriors. You will remember the droplets of blood splashing across the screen, the gruesome decapitations, the piles of slaughtered corpses, and the pale blue sky darkened with thousands of deadly Persian arrows. You will remember the burning passion between the king and his queen. But mostly you'll remember the story of how 300 Spartans bravely endured their beautiful deaths in battle.


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