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300 Review (blog)

Category: 300 News
Article Date: August 14, 2007 | Publication: | Author: Staci Layne Wilson

Posted by: stagewomanjen

300 begins, as all great stories have since time immemorial, around a campfire. A battle-worn Spartan warrior, Dilios (Wenham), is telling an amazing tale of honor, glory, battle, intrigue and magic. Its hero is Leonidas (Butler), a brave and prudent king who made the ultimate sacrifice for his convictions and the freedom of Sparta's people.

There's a sadistic glee to the battle sequences, with heads a-rolling and limbs hacked off ...

The action begins with the amazing tale of how, when just a boy, Leonidas slew a preternatural wolflike creature of massive proportions. The brave youth went on to become the most competent swordsman, fighter and strategist Sparta ever knew. He grew into a kind and beloved ruler, and the husband of Gorgo (Headey), the most beautiful, intelligent and gracious lady in the kingdom. All is well in their corner of the world until word arrives from Persia that Xerxes (Santoro) has gained sovereignty over Sparta and his arrival is imminent.

Leonidas is having none of this. After consulting his council, he pays a visit to the Oracle, a gorgeous, nubile nudie whose flawless body is divined by the Ephors, a cabal of ancient, leprous wise men. After watching the young lady go into a dreamlike spin that somehow foretells the future, they advise Leonidas not to go to war.

But nothing can keep the king from his attempt to stop the impending Persian hordes. With a mere 300 soldiers willing and able to mount a defense against the wishes of the council, they charge into a battle they cannot possibly win. They know this, but they refuse to go down without a fight. At home in the city, Queen Gorgo tries more diplomatic means of swaying the council through its treacherous political climber, Theron (Dominic West).

Killer battles compete with killer abs

300 is a long-awaited film both for fans of Frank Miller's revered graphic novels and for those who want to see if director Zack Snyder can live up to the promise he showed in 2004 with his remake of George Romero's zombie classic, Dawn of the Dead.

The story is pretty simple, so those looking for Rome-like palace intrigue and dialogue-heavy skullduggery will more than likely be disappointed. While it's a no-brainer to say that guys will love the action and gals will love the guys onscreen, there's actually something for everyone in 300. (Fans of science fiction will be more than pleased: Creepy creatures and impossible characters abound.)

While the overall look of the movie is quite dissimilar to Frank Miller's Sin City, it's still very much in line with his beautiful artwork. With the help of a heap of CGI, Snyder does an astonishing job of bringing a hyper-reality to believable fruition.

Well, almost believable. And that's the beauty of 300—while the actors give the proceedings some serious gravitas, the characters are straight out of a dark, twisted fantasy. The too-tall Xerxes has brought his A-game to the battle, with hordes of larger-than-life creatures and a herd of creepy, bomb-making dwarflike men whose bodies are as twisted as their minds.

There's a sadistic glee to the battle sequences, with heads a-rolling and limbs hacked off, left right and center, with all the requisite reckless abandon. Here's where Snyder's horror pedigree shows, but we know he's following Miller's blueprint to the letter as each droplet of blood flies through the fetid air.

The images are crisp and clear, and the gritty color palette manages to be beautiful in spite of its muted hues. The soundtrack is appropriately rousing, and the costumes (well, what there are of them) are scissor-shear sharp, with an awe-inspiring attention to detail.

300 is showing in conventional theaters, and 300: The IMAX Experience is in (you guessed it) IMAX theaters worldwide.

Director Snyder describes the making of his movie as "self-indulgent," but fortunately he doesn't take it to the nth degree with the running time. While, for me, the battles did start to wear out their welcome toward the end, it's actually just long enough, and the climax is wholly appropriate (even if you did skip history class and don't know how it ends).


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