Gerard Butler as Leonidas, the most Bad-Ass Warrior King in History.
The first time I saw the trailer for 300, I was at once hit by hungry anticipation and quiet dread. I mean, this movie looked like the most awesome thing since LOTR, but then again, how could it possibly live up to the magnificent taste this little morsel gave us? Could the final film truly deliver what the trailer promised? Few movies really did. Well, I've finally seen the film myself and I have to say... YES. It frickin' does deliver.
Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller based on the real-life Battle of Thermopylae, 300 isn't going to win points for realism or accuracy to ancient history, nor will it win any points with hardline Eastern/Asian/African/Ethnic groups- the 'bad guys' in the film after all are from Asia and 'everywhere else' aside from Greece. But then again, the Persian Empire in the film doesn't as much resemble real-life history as much as they do the Forces of Mordor. I mean, you've got masked Immortals standing in for Orcs and Uruk-hai, grotesque giant warriors substituting for Rock Trolls and even some War Elephants making for sawed-off Mumakils. Like the visual style of the graphic novel, 300 is told in solid, broad strokes telling of the classic theme of the few facing the many, men standing for their freedom and their loved ones even in the face of overwhelming odds. In that way, it's universal and less about nationalities or race and more about one's devotion to his or her country, loved ones and principles.
History and Fantasy mix to form one bloody good epic.
Now, after all that mushness aside, 300 just KICKS ARSE. And does it again and again. Gerard Butler rules the screen as Leonidas, the Spartan king who looks into the face of death with both eyes wide open. Behind him are 300 bad-asses; mostly nameless and faceless death-dealers save for a couple of recognizable faces- David Wenham once again dons armor (albeit a lot less than he wore before as Faramir in LOTR) as Dilios; Vincent Regan as the Spartan Captain, last seen with sandals and sword in the Brad Pitt-starrer Troy. There are a couple more notable Spartans- the guy who gives the classic "Then we'll fight in the shade" line, and the Captain's inexperienced son, Astinus.
While mostly about bad-ass men, the home front is the battlefield for one bad-ass woman; Queen Gorgo, played by Lena Heady. While she's no warrior, she does shed her share of blood in the movie, in perhaps one of the most satisfying scenes in the flick.
Lay off the drinks to keep from missing any striking moments.
Visually, this film is a unique visual experience. Filmed fully against green-screen backdrops and rendered in CG, the film evokes indeed a graphic novel, even more so than Sin City did a couple of years ago. Slow motion cuts to Fast Motion and back again is often used to punctuates scenes like a comic book, in widescreen (as the comic does), and the many battle scenes are both in seen in grand scale and in close, with long scenes of choreographed brutality that will have you holding your breath as you watch in thrilled silence. Yes, there is blood and plenty of it, quite a few decapitations and limbs flying... but thankfully it's more stylized than gory or excessive. These many scenes of violence along with sensuality and grotesque images are amazing for us adults and grownups, but young kids will probably have nightmares, so keep 'em away.
In the end, I came away from the movie exhilirated and satisfied... not something you'd expect given that there is a fixed and inescapable ending to this battle- however, the final scene has that glorious Braveheart-ish tone to it, just nowhere near as sad and about a hundred times more bad-ass. I wanna see this flick again. My score for this flick? 300!!!
Grab your buds. Find the best theater you can get to and watch this on the big screen. And get ready for one hell of a ride.
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