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Movie Review: 300

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In 2005, Frank Miller's graphic novel Sin City was adapted to the screen via director Robert Rodriguez. By using green screen he was able to literally lift Miller’s source material right off the page onto the silver screen. The finished result was arguably the truest comic book adapt ever made. Now two years on and another one of Miller’s novels has been adapted to film. This time Zack Snyder, director of 2004’s fantastic re-make of Dawn Of The Dead, is at the helm.

300 addresses the battle of Thermopylae which took place in 480 B.C. where King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) of Sparta led a legion of 300 Spartans against a Persian army consisting of over one hundred thousand men.

Essentially that is the basic plot for the film. Much like Sin City the material has been lifted straight from the pages onto the big screen. So once again it’s a very accurate adaptation and the green screen technology used gives the picture a unique look that is visually stunning. So despite there not being much of a story, the film is beautiful to look at.

Don’t worry, there is more to 300; the battle sequences are an amazing spectacle. The Spartans take no prisoners and this is portrayed to devastating effect throughout as Persian after Persian falls. The violence and gore never let up with heads being chopped clean off among other blood-soaked deaths. This is aided by some delicious slow motion shots that really help capture the brutality of battle.

Unfortunately there isn’t much character development for, well anyone, really. However this doesn’t prevent a couple of very strong performances shining through the mayhem, the first one being Gerard Butler’s stellar display as King Leonidas. Every time he is on screen he completely commands your attention as he motivates his men with some delightful dialogue; "This is where we fight! This is where they die!" I think his performance combined with the box-office success 300 is enjoying will finally throttle Butler onto the Hollywood A-list.

I also liked Lena Headey’s portrayal of King Leonidas’s wife and Queen. Despite not having much screen time or a fully fleshed out character I felt she really gave depth and bought genuine emotion to the role.

Because of what 300 is – a faithful comic-book adaptation – you have to accept it for just that. The film contains a lot of clichés because of this and therefore there are no real surprises or twists along the way. I didn’t think this made the film any less enjoyable but it does mean there isn’t enough to make you really care too much for what’s going to happen. With that said overall I found 300 to be a bloodthirsty guilty pleasure that just isn’t in the same league of the superior Sin City.

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About Daniel Cummings

  • Good review. It also pays to see this movie on a really big screen. not for detail, but for the impressive sweep and scope of the images.