Epic battle movie ‘300’ draws in fans everywhere
March 23, 2007
By the time you read this review, it will be approximately two weeks after I first saw “300.” By then, I’ll still be trying to determine exactly how many varieties of ass this film kicked. I’m up to about fifteen so far.
Based on the graphic novel by Frank “Sin City” Miller and Lynn Varley, “300” is an extremely stylized take on a real-life battle. The time is 480 B.C., and the place is Sparta, where the warrior king Leonidas (Gerard Butler) leads his people with the equally proud Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) at his side. One fateful day, messengers arrive, informing Leonidas that Persian conqueror Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is on the warpath and has his eyes set on taking over Sparta next. Not one to lay down for any man, Leonidas promptly assembles 300 of his finest warriors to meet the massive armies of Xerxes at a narrow mountain pass known as the Hot Gates.
Though highly outnumbered and confronted by an assortment of skilled combatants and ghastly creatures, Leonidas and his 300 Spartans are nevertheless fueled by enough courage to protect their homeland at all costs.
“300” is a vibrant force of primal badassery the likes of which the cinema has rarely seen. Just like 2005’s “Sin City,” “300” isn’t so much a movie based off a graphic novel as it is a hybrid of the two. Every moment of this film is living, breathing, uber-violent art in motion, a wholly intense and much more memorable action experience than you’ll ever get watching Steven Seagal’s latest straight-to-DVD cow pie.
By way of a gold color scheme and blue/green screen technique, director Zack Snyder (who last surprised movie buffs by actually making the “Dawn of the Dead” remake pretty damn good) plunges the viewer into a world that’s best described as Ancient Greece on a blend of crack and Red Bull.
The film’s visual beauty, from great shots of Sparta to the numerous slow-motion battle sequences, contrasts perfectly against its over-the-top, highlyexaggerated sense of violence, which provides consistently rousing thrills throughout the picture.
For all its nasty kills and dismemberments, the entire “Friday the 13th” series has nothing on “300” (and it looks a hell of a lot better, to boot). Sure, the movie does boil down to essentially being two hours of guys screaming and killing each other, and after a while, the yelling and bloodletting does seem a bit much. But “300” contains enough adventurous spirit to always propel itself forward, to keep kicking ass, taking names and looking absolutely gorgeous while doing it. And the acting’s not too shabby either, with Gerard Butler commanding the screen with authority and ferocity as Leonidas.
“300” isn’t my favorite film of the year (so far, that honor has to go to “Zodiac”), but as of right now, it’s definitely in the top five. Not only did I dine in Hell, I was hungry for seconds.
A.J. Hakari is a student at UW-River Falls.