The film is filled with CGI throughout, recreating Miller’s drawings and Varley’s color palette and making possible all the stabbing, slicing, and blood squirting of the battle scenes. While obvious at times, especially the latter effect, the pace and artistry of the activity on the screen keeps the viewer engaged.
As brilliant as all the effects work is, the story and performances are what lift the film into rarified air. A special kudos goes out to the actors’ training staff because the Spartans are extremely fit and every muscle is on display. The film is also augmented by the music of Tyler Bates, a fantastic mix that combines classical and metal elements, and includes the vocal work of Azam Ali.
The villain Xerxes is the film’s one flaw. All his dialogue is dubbed poorly, taking the viewer out of the moment and removing the menace his character should have created. The effects don't work well in the scene where he is alone with Leonidas. He looks where Leonidas is supposed to be and not at him.
The bar for sword-and-sandal epics has been set so high, not even Icarus would attempt to reach it. Run with the speed of Hermes, and see 300 on the biggest screen with the best sound system available to better engulf your senses in its brilliance. I’m ready to relive it. Rare is the film that compels me to see it again on the big screen.
Solace in Cinema offers a comic-to-screen-comparison for fans.
For those interested in learning the story of the event, read Herodotus's Histories.