I saw the movie 300 over a week ago. It took a long time for me to think about it before I felt I could give an honest review. In the meantime, I even wrote a blog about movies I really was looking forward to, then ended up hating. Let me be very clear – 300 does not belong in that category. I was really looking forward to it, and it did not disappoint.
My feeling going into the movie was one of nervous anticipation. A movie that looks this good is just bound to disappoint. A couple of years ago I saw Sin City, another Frank Miller graphic novel adaptation. Although there were some cool graphics, gritty characters and great effects, I wasn’t blown away. I hadn’t read 300 either, but the mega-hyped ads and trailers were everywhere.
I went with my friend Shane, a buddy who I went to the original Matrix with on opening night. We went in basically not having a clue what it was about, and were absolutely amazed at the visual spectacle. We went two more times together just to see if it was as great as we originally thought. It was. Would this be one of those experiences?
300 opens with the emotional recollection of how Spartan boys were trained to be warriors – separated from their families, physically abused, sent into the wild and trained by strong men. There is no doubt these kids would end up being tough. Quickly we find that Sparta’s neighbours count on them to lead into battle. When the depraved Persians come knocking, the Spartans are ready to go to war (actually declaring war by kicking the Persian ambassador into a bottomles hole) even if they don’t have the blessing of the community or the mutated elders. Enter one of the only women with dialogue in the movie, the king’s wife who advises him to follow his heart (which of course means kicking the royal *&$% out of the Persians no matter the cost).
300 lonely warriors begin marching to the coast to defend themselves at the ‘Hot Gates’ – a narrow chasm foreshadowed earlier in the film in a scene with a young boy and a decidedly CGI wolf.
Why the Persians haven’t already began their march into Greek territory is a good question, but their delay costs them dearly. The Spartans kick serious @$$ and in the first few battles do so without losing any men. The viewer must know by now however, that this was a suicide mission from the very start. There is no way even the mighty Spartan warriors can hold back the eternal forces of Xerxes – the eight foot tall, multi-pierced homaphrodite. The movie ends well, although I didn’t think there were any surprises, except perhaps, for the behavior of the glorious queen.
While 300 does not stick to actual history (at this point who cares) it does have an amazing amount of freakish crap. Mutants, hunchbacks, rhinos, 4 gruesome beheadings, and the most amazing blood splatter sequences I’ve ever seen are used to remind us this is indeed a comic tale. The use of slow motion and fast action in tandem was very effective. If you’ve seen a trailer for the movie, you know the colour is washed out, and it is a beautifully eerie effect.
In my opinion the reason you go to see this film will determine whether or not you like it. Certainly if you’re a history major going to critique Frank Miller’s interpretation of historical accuracy, you’ll be sorely disappointed. If you’re like me though, and you want to see some creative, intent action, you’ll leave with a smile on your face.