Tuesday, March 27, 2007
300 (2007) - Zack Snyder
Zack Snyder arrived on the movie scene in 2004 with a remake of George A. Romero's landmark zombie film, Dawn of the Dead. No where close to as good as the original, it was still a worthy effort when judged by itself. And now we have his follow up, an adaptation of Frank Miller's comic book, 300. Set in 480 B.C., Persian King Xerxes has taken over a large proportion of the known world. He arrives in Greece and sends an emissary to Sparta with a simple proposition- capitulate or perish. Leonidas, king of the warrior race of Spartans, quickly dispatches the emissary and marches to Thermopylae, a 12-meter wide pass in the mountains, with 300 of his best soldiers. Here, they will make their stand against Xerxes' army of 200,000. Meanwhile, Leonidas' wife, Queen Gorgo attempts, using any means, to convince the Spartan council to join the fight.
First and foremost, let's establish one thing you should remember while watching this movie. While the Battle Of Thermopylae did actually happen in 480 B.C., the creators state quite categorically, that this movie is not a history lesson. It's fact inspired fantasy. And man alive, what a great piece of fantasy this is. The plot is paper thin. Bad guys make a threat, good guys ignore, good guys mount a heroic last stand to inspire a nation. Having read the graphic novel some years back, I was quite intrigued as to what Snyder would make of the source material. Shot almost entirely against green screen, the movie is incredibly stylized. Snyder captures the visual style of the comic perfectly, while putting his own spin on proceedings. While Sin City, Miller's last comic to be translated to the screen was shot in the same manner, 300 just takes to the screen better, while offering a little more in the entertainment stakes.
The film is incredibly violent. Limbs and head are lobbed off with abandon as the Spartans push back wave after wave of Persian troops. Gerard Butler plays the Scottish, sorry, Spartan King Leonidas with gusto. He screams line after line of inspirational slogans at his scantily clad troops as they work themselves up into a frenzy of bloodlust and patriotism. A Spartan warrior's greatest honor is to die on the battlefield, so you can imagine what their attitudes will be like. The battle scenes themselves are like a frenetic ballet punctuated with slow-mo. They are pure fantasy, so were the battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and 300's offerings rightly take their place amongst those, and the likes of Braveheart.
Honestly, the film is pure machismo and violence. If you're looking for something with a thick, engaging plot, look elsewhere. But if you're looking for something that wont test you and looks fantastic, check out this piece of pure entertainment. Fantastic.