By now you will have all basked in the glory of watching the amazing story of 300 Spartans, the greatest warriors on Earth going up against a vastly out-numbering horde of hundreds of thousands of Persian warriors under the rule of King Xerxes in 480 B.C. It's a tale you will probably remember from school or a documentary on the history channel, or hell maybe you have read the 300 graphic novel of which this film is based. If you have read Frank Miller's epic tale, then you will already know that the historical background of the story is only a small canvas for what his work is really about. It's about style, it's about testosterone filled and exaggerated action, it's about seeing 300 men (and by the looks of their abdomens, these really are men!) in a bloody battle to the death. The film though maybe not historically accurate, does indeed stay true to what the legend of the events is about. These men were brave warriors, who would each not think twice about sacrificing themselves for the man on either side of them. Gerard Butler who I've never been able to connect with in the past, totally commands the screen as King Leonidas. This isn't a warrior who stands at the back, allowing his men to get slaughtered whilst he gives out commands. He is at the front of the formations, ready to die at any second for any of his Spartans. No man is more important than the other. Team strength and unity is the Spartan code. Finally we have a lead actor who has the stature for such a role. He has the passion of Kirk Douglas and Russell Crowe. A leading man who you could imagine following into the depths of hell for. The movie is absolutely gorgeous to look at, just like the last Frank Miller tale we saw on screen with Sin City. Both movies have done a great job of respecting the works of a true artist and breathing his landscapes to life using green screen.... the only way it could possibly be done. Frame by frame is taken from Miller's work. A scene showing the Persian ships struggling to fight off the storm is a wonderful and breathtaking moment, which truly sucked me into this world. And that's what this is, a completely different world. Zack Snyder will take all the filmic credit but this is Frank Miller's universe... Snyder is just the translator.... which is not to say I want to take something away for him because he completely grows as a film-maker with this film. It has more heart, better rounded characters, better pacing and wonderful visuals and action sequences that his Dawn of the Dead (which I do like) never had. The action scenes are insane. Remember when we thought Saving Private Ryan's opening scene was about as bloody as it comes? Well 300 goes one better. Finally we have swords protruding into people's chest, heads severed all over the place and limbs being chopped off.... the feeling of a real battle. Snyder wasn't prepared to shy away, and this surely is one of the reasons why this technique of film-making was used. Onto a few negatives, but these really are small and SHOULD NOT FOR ANY REASON STOP YOU FROM SEEING THE FILM IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY.... Some of the dialogue at times is extremely pretentious and when characters aren't shouting at each other... dare I say it becomes a little cheesy and out of place? The political side of things and anything that had to do with Lena Headey's character, seemed to just delay the action for me. It was unnecessary filler. Not to mention that the only time in the film when the effects let me down were in those sequences with the council men.... I think more work in post on the backgrounds to match up with the rest of the film might have made them a little less distracting for me.
300 is a glorious piece of man cinema. It's a great tale of legendary warriors going up against a force of 100-1 against and is surely one of the most visually stunning war movies ever made. It's bloody, sexy, violent and god damn entertaining.