Starring Gerard Butler (Phantom of The Opera), Lena Headey (The Brothers Grimm), David Wenham (Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers), Dominic West (The Forgotten, Hannibal Rising) and Rodrigo Santoro (Love Actually), 300 is packed full of action, spears, swords, and blood, but the film feels too much like a graphic comic book come to life than a dramatic retelling of those brave 300 Spartan soldiers that fought for their freedom so very long ago.
Gerard Butler plays King Leonidas, the great leader who led those men into inevitable doom. The Persian Army wants Sparta and there’s just no getting around it. Or is there? When Leonidas picks up his shield and helmet to march on the onslaught of Persians descending on his country, there’s no doubt that he and his loyal men will cut down at least a few enemy soldiers before they fall.
The Persian army is led by their own kind, Xerxes (Santoro). The two armies literally collide on the beaches of Sparta, and we are subjected to a bombardment of very graphic and stylish killing shots. This movie makes the mayhem of a standard horror film look like a friendly at the park. With a few great bird’s eye view shots, the filmmakers make the difference in numbers very obvious. These 300 Spartans appear to be outnumbered, 1000 to 1. They even make the 300 men’s plight that much more devastatingly brutal when they introduce some monstrous creatures right out of The Lord of The Rings films. The Spartan soldiers have to shove a few giant elephants off a cliff in order to survive.
Bodies pile up, blood stains the sea and the remaining Spartans stand proudly atop the gruesome display, asking Xerxes if that’s the best he’s got. Horde after horde of men and beast are launch at these brave men. Will they kill Xerxes before the battle is over or will they end up failing despite their strong convictions? This is a question that this movie raises and answers. Do we care about these brutal, vengeful people who like to practically torture their sons into “real men”? That’s a question you have to answer yourself, I suppose.
Dominic West plays Theron, a corrupt Spartan politician who wages a cold war against Kind Leonidas and his family. Queen Gorgo or Mrs. Leonidas (Headley) may have a thing or two to say about that.
David Wenham plays the Spartan soldier, Dildo, narrating most if not all of the film. His voice is very theatrical and the narration itself is very explanatory at the same time.
This film suffers from any number of errors but it’s stylized vision of death and violence makes 300 worth a gander. I didn’t care for the violence as much the second time as I did in theaters the first time. I didn’t really care about the characters either time I watched 300. The costume design is a little weak for the Spartans and extraordinary for the Persians. They show just a few too many Spartans abs to be believable. The CGI backdrops feel a little too much like mat-paintings. Our Spartan heroes just don’t seem to blend well with their beautiful Spartan settings. Although, I must say, the visual style of the killings are intriguing if not even beautiful. However, I do not recommend 300 to anyone looking for a history lesson. It’s too much like watching a moving comic book.
Commentary by Director Zack Snyder, writer Kurt Johnstad, and the director of photography Larry Fong.