I really liked the film (Anthony Bradley gives it a 'B'). The visuals are quite striking and impressive. The action sequences alone are well worth the price of admission. Gerard Butler gives a powerful performance as King Leonidas, and his wife, Queen Gorgo (played by Lena Headey), does more than hold her own. When an emissary from Xerxes arrives in Sparta, he is taken aback that a woman dare speak in the counsel of men. Gorgo responds that only Spartan women are capable of birthing "proper men."
In the strength of her performance, however, Headey stands above the rest of the cast, who are constantly in danger of being overwhelmed by the sheer forcefulness of Butler's portrayal. In particular the portrayal of Delios, the narrator and witness to the events of 300, by David Wenham (who also played Faramir in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) suffers notably in comparison to Butler's Leonidas.
There is a fair bit of titillation, from the sensuality of a "drunk adolescent" oracle to the lurid temptations faced by the Ephialtes, and once the violence starts it is quite graphic. This film certainly won't get the Dove Foundation's approval.
The grim gallows humor of the dialogue lends itself to numerous memorable one-liners, mostly from the mouth of Leonidas. He tells the self-proclaimed god-man Xerxes, for instance, that he cannot kneel in submission because his legs are cramped from killing Persians all day. At other times the dialogue seems a bit uneven, perhaps because of the notable difference in verbal requirements between a graphic novel and a screenplay.
The film has received mixed reviews, in large part due to the facile comparisons that could be made between Leonidas and George W. Bush. A leitmotif of the film is the battle between the free citizen warriors of Sparta and the slaves under the tyrannical domination of Xerxes. Thus, says Leonidas, "A new age has come, an age of freedom. And all will know that 300 Spartans gave their last breath to defend it."