Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City), 300 loosely depicts the Battle of Thermopylae where Leonidas I (Gerard Butler) and three hundred Spartans took on Persian King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his massive army of one million soldiers. Zack Snyder, the director of the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, creates visually orgasmic landscapes out of Frank Miller’s two page spreads. Every shot is not only perfectly framed, but the definition of cinematic elegance.
However, the lifeless dialogue and two dimensional characters borders on the edge of boring and annoying. It takes about 45 minutes before the first epic battle sequence breaks out, and the build to this sequence is exhausting.
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Release Date: March 9th, 2007
Running Time: 116 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for graphic battle sequences throughout, some sexuality and nudity.
Distributors: Warner Bros
Snyder’s action sequences are shot like a Michael Bay film on acid. But instead of overusing MTV style fast cuts, Snyder makes use of long steadicam and dolly shots which allow you to see the choreographed action unfold like never before. Over-saturated imagery mixed with innovative slow motion effects, make for an incredibly innovative experience. Blood splatters across the screen like a Jackson Pollock painting.
300 plays like a cinematic video game. Some sequences use a side-scrolling technique borrowed from Old Boy. The action breaks too frequently, and for long lengths of time. To see the Spartan’s fight is badass, to see Spartan’s talk is boring.
One can also see comparisons to modern day politics. The king goes to war without legal approval, leading to the loss of many lives. He believes it is okay to break laws in the course of freedom. There is talk about how Freedom comes at the cost of blood. Of Course, much of the film was directly adapted from the graphic novel which was released in 1998, years before the Bush administration entered office. A subplot added to the film involves a sequence which reveals on of the characters who is verbally against the war to be an outright traitor. It’s obviously hard not to draw comparisons, intended or not.
300 also might be the most sexist and testosterone filled piece of America cinema in the last few years. One sequence involves a full on lesbian orgy. At one point the lead character (the protagonist) passive aggressively bashes a gay culture. Leonidas has little to no qualities for children to look up to. The main villain is a drag queen. The movie is stuffed full of two dimensional values that will no doubt appeal to the lowest common denominator.
The characters, with exception of the minor relationship subplot between the Captain and his son, are unsympathetic and uninteresting. When the Spartans die in battle, you just don’t care. The film instead celebrates the bloodshed but not meaning. There is a little to love, but much to hate.
/Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10