So I watched 300…
A few months ago I started noticing that my number of posts published was nearing 300 and I wondered how best to commemorate this milestone. I decided to not overthink things and thought “what better way to celebrate your 300th post then by reviewing 300?”.
Okay, basic plot: in 480 B.C. Persia – led by the god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) – sets out on a mission to conquer Greece. King Leonadas (Gerard Butler) realises the threat posed by Xerxes and wishes to mobilise the Spartan army. He is blocked by political rigmarole and told that he cannot go to war. Leonidas decides to take matters into his own hands and marches with three-hundred of his finest warriors – under the guise of his own personal bodyguards – to meet the invading Persians. Leonidas and his three-hundred are outnumbered a hundred to one; but they march into battle without hesitation, eager to achieve what every Spartan warrior lusts for – a beautiful death.
I remember the first time I watched this movie being absolutely transfixed by its visuals. I had never quite seen anything like it, from its distinctive colour palette to the breathtaking action sequences. Director, Zack Snyder is often criticised for his placement of visuals above story but in this film it worked beautifully. 300 has a plethora of grand cinematic scenes that feel like they were ripped straight out of a comic book. This film is an adaptation of a graphic novel by Frank Miller and Snyder actually recreated the novel shot-for-shot. This results in a film with a rich aesthetic value that is glorious to behold.
The film isn’t all about good looks and also has some substance. The three-hundred Spartans who make up Leonidas’ makeshift army are all (save one or two) expendable and there’s not much in characterisation for them. They’re Spartan warriors and as the film explains, they’ve been bred for battle and that’s pretty much the extent of their development. Now what this means is that there’s plenty of time to focus on the central figure of Leonidas. I absolutely loved him and Butler’s depiction of the character. I was convinced that after this film Butler would own Hollywood and win all the Oscars in future movies but alas, it was not to be. The only real problem I had with Butler’s acting was that his Scottish accent kept rearing its head and had you wondering whether Leonidas was from the Scottish plains of Sparta.
Besides its stunning visuals, the film’s script is probably my next favourite feature. In historical epics like this, the dialogue is always filled with the pomp and ceremony of ancient times and I loved it. Every speech that Leonidas gives is filled with passion and power. It’s exhilarating, so much so that you find yourself ready to march into battle based on his command. Just to return to praising the visuals, I have to commend their cast on their physical commitment to their roles. This movie is guaranteed to make you feel out of shape and I don’t even want to imagine what the cast had to do to get their bodies into Spartan shape.
Overall, 300 is a visual masterpiece. Zack Snyder creates a rich and engaging fantasy. Gerard Butler does well and delivers emotionally-charged dialogue to perfection. This is a fun movie to watch 8/10