300 Review: Epic, Powerful, and Incredible!
by Alex Billington
March 7, 2007
Disclaimer: If you haven't seen 300 yet, then don't read this! See it first! By the time this was written, I had seen the film three times in total.
This needs no real introduction, as by now everyone is familiar with Frank Miller's 300, the graphic novel adaptation that glorifies the Spartan warriors at Thermopylae. The biggest question on everyone's mind is if it lives up to all the expectations and if it still delivers the excitement, the entertainment, and the intense action that's been promised. The answer in one word: yes!
This beautifully adapted and visually stunning film glorifies the story of King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and the Hot Gates at Thermopylae. In 480 BC, the Spartans are threatened by an invasion of a Persian army, led by a man who believes himself to be a god, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Although denied by the corrupt Ephors the ability to take all of Sparta to war, Leonidas has set off with three hundred of his strongest and bravest men to confront the millions-strong Persian army in order to protect his land and his people. It is with these soldiers that King Leonidas battles off endless waves of Persian troops and mythical creatures from the dark. His soldiers have been trained from birth to be warriors and to fight for glory to the death on the battlefield, and they will stop at nothing to achieve victory.
To put it simply, to watch 300 is like watching three hundred clones of Maximus from Gladiator fight in perfect unison. Director Zack Snyder has created the most visually beautiful film I have ever seen, especially in converting the imagery from the graphic novel, and has pulled breathtaking battle scenes and a convincing story into one masterpiece of a comic book adaptation. Were Snyder granted the budget to show just a little more fighting, this film would have received a perfect score. Nevertheless, the battle scenes in 300 are as extraordinary as watching superheroes fight, a critical reason why 300 fits in perfectly with the world of comic book adaptations, turning the Spartans into superheroes themselves.
Just a few months ago we all reveled in the amazing cinematography of Children of Men that captured epic battle sequences without a single cut. In similar fashion, 300's cinematographer Larry Fong working closely with Zack Snyder also does an excellent job portraying half-naked Spartan soldiers killing hundreds of Persians with only a spear and sword. Although not as groundbreaking as Children of Men, these fight scenes will get your adrenaline going and leave you cheering for more - and you'll get nearly a full helping of fight scenes, with stronger enemies every time. The only trouble is that you'll never want it to end, and you want every fight scene and new enemy to be drawn out in the fullest extent. This is the only area where 300 falls ever so slightly short. When you've got a budget in the middle ground between mainstream and epic, you can only do so much.
If there is at all a point to complain about 300, it's that the ratio of story to battle sequences. My own expectations were incredibly high for 300, ever since I saw the first riveting trailer at Comic-Con in July of 2006, and have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to watch the fights uncut. Now don't misunderstand, 300 still has some of the greatest fight scenes ever in film history, I just wanted more of them. I wanted them to keep going. There could have been a much more vastly epic set of battles, including more with the Rhino and fantasy monsters, but in the end Snyder had to stay within budget. And what was there was amazing, and that's enough to enjoy without complaints.
300 is a full two hours yet moves so swiftly through each of its great scenes that you'll hardly notice the time pass. I really love a film that's able to keep you interested, captivated, and excited for a length of time beyond today's typical movie. Gerard Butler's portrayal of Leonidas, Lena Headey's of Queen Gorgo, and especially Vincent Regan's of Captain are the most exemplary performances that help achieve this smooth progression through the two hours. There is never a moment of bad acting or boring scenes at all for any of the actors when it comes to the performances; the acting is as fantastic as the visuals, which is always a delight.
From the mind-warping visuals to the invigorating battle sequences, 300 almost delivers as highly as it was expected to. It's a fascinating and exciting experience itself, and will leave you fueled for even more by the end. The only reason it hasn't earned a perfect rating is that I was hoping for just a bit more fighting instead of story, but that doesn't mean what we were shown wasn't incredible. 300 is a film that will earn a definitive place in comic book adaptation rankings and still be remembered by many. As Leonidas would say - to victory!
Reader Feedback - 18 Comments
thanks for the review - i'm definitely going to catch this movie. just one small question. why would Leonidas fight through (as per your caption) hundreds of spartans? wouldn't they be persians? or is there a huge twist in the movie? thanks, Ed
Ed Lee on Mar 8, 2007
FOOOORRRR SPAAAAARTAAAA! amazing film. one of the advantages of living in asia is that we get to see movies earlier than you guys in the states. just saw it last night, and upon ending, the entire theater gave it a rousing ovation, which is rare. I agree, the visuals are stunning. the battle sequences equally so. every move, every swing of each spartan soldier looked like a dance. and while gory, the battle scenes were so well made that it looks less than a bloodbath than an expression of the beauty of the human body, and what men prepared to die can achieve. story? well, the plot is simple and direct. the beauty of this movie comes in the presentation. you know they're going to die. it's what they did with the short time they had to live that counted. WE WILL FIGHT IN THE SHADE! words to live by.
lordshoju on Mar 8, 2007
Loved it... It lived up to its hype, just as I had expected it to. Now I wanna go see it again, and again and again. Amazing visuals, soundtrack, everything. Perfect. Well worth the wait !! *On a side note. I also saw The Lives of Others, and Pan's Labyrinth was seriously robbed of that Oscar. Pan's was so much better, as the Lives was boring.
Jeff Warner on Mar 10, 2007
Alex, I must disagree with you partially. Yes, the film is visually stunning. But ... there is no dramatic weight to this movie at all. Their sacrifice isn't moving - no matter how impossibly cool it looks. http://therecshow.com/2007/03/10/300-surrender-to-reason/
Ray on Mar 10, 2007
Good review Alex. I wish they would have ended the movie at the end of the fight though. Or at least started the huge fight at the end.
Joe on Mar 10, 2007
Quote: Alex, I must disagree with you partially. Yes, the film is visually stunning. But , there is no dramatic weight to this movie at all. Their sacrifice isn't moving - no matter how impossibly cool it looks. http://therecshow.com/2007/03/10/300-surrender-to-reason/ your're kidding right you're just copying some other guys reveiw this has moved me more than any other war movie ive ever seen there was more emotion and meaning in this movie than blood learn to use your head btw great reveiw
Neil on Mar 11, 2007
Look up the word HYPERBOLE in the dictionary... there's a transcription of this review. MORE FIGHTING? If anything it needed more STORY... the subplot with the queen was a JOKE. The character development was NIL. 7/10 MAX
GOLDBERG on Mar 11, 2007
I really couldn't disagree with this review more. Yes, the story-to-fighting ratio was bad, but not in the direction you mention. There was essentially no character development and the dialogue consists nearly entirely of banal attempts to create quotable dialogue. Bleh.
Chris on Mar 12, 2007
Amazing- One of the Best Films i have ever saw- One of those films you can not miss and a must to see in the theatre- Gladiator with an attitude! A++++
Mark on Mar 13, 2007
George on Mar 15, 2007
Incredible. I do not understand why people are complaining about character development. Look at your ticket stub. Did it say: The English Patient? Were you expecting the movie to star Nicole Kidman? Jeez, get over it. The movie is popcorn theater at its best. I was actually glad for once not to have to get emotionally attached to the plot and to not have to read a bunch of subtitles. 300 is a great movie for action film fans. Now with that said, the movie IMHO does not deserve a 9/10. It did have some trouble spots namely: - Synder just showed us how the Spartan men work together as a single unit with some kick a$$ fight scenes. Yet, no one shouted: "Hey dude, watch out. There is a guy on the horse behind you". Seriously, this scene totally invalidated the previous scene were the village kid comes up behind them and they turn in unison to the threat (sweet!). - Village kid, btw, bad actor. Re-shoot the scene with him getting a cross bolt in the head or something. - Orgy scene opens up with a crazy looking goat person playing the clarinet or smoking hash. Made me and everyone around me laugh uncontrollably. The Goat looked like Mookey from Fraggle Rock. Instead replace goat guy with another weird chick with maybe an 4 tits. - And my #1 problem with this otherwise great escape from yet another Oscar wannabee: not enough sex. We need more sex! There were several scenes with the stupid son of a king that could easily had more sex instead. I did not mind seeing Butler's butt, but only if you are going to give me full frontal nudity on some Sparta lovelies. Watch HBO. The Rome series understands that ancient Rome and Greece were about war, talking philosophy out there a$$es, and banging everything that moved. So for you critic naysayers, nail them to the oak tree with Spartan arrows. I give 300 an 8/10. Slightly behind Sin City. But I am hoping Jessica Alba can be added to a deleted sex scene on the unrated DVD version of 300.
grendel on Mar 16, 2007
well what can i say amazing movie extraordianry graphics terrific sound quality all that you look for in a movie but i have a couple of things that bother me 1) the creatures that were there well they were a little larger than life 2) should have kept it more human 3)after some time its like you are playing some game on the ps 4) the spartans should have won 5)the queen sexx scene damm should have shown her geeting all naked and almost geeting raped 6)the orgy scene with the hunchback the girls were not all that pretty still a great movie and dude watch it agian
abhs on Mar 17, 2007
I could'nt agree more with the review, this is how comic book adaptions should be made, in all seriousness, detail and visual stunnery. The only thing that bugged was the ending of the true story involves the Sparts's being surrounded in an open area and reverting to a defensive formation, whereby the sheilds enclose them all for some to occasionally break out and heroically risk their life trying to defend the rest against insurmountable odds probably taking out the odd five persions before dying. But, in this film the ending, for those that hav'nt seen it I wont spoil it but lets just say that time, money or both ran out which is a great shame. Great film despite this and everyone must see it if they enjoy beautiful ass kickings. 9/10
RichVisuals on Apr 5, 2007
I didnt like the movie. These kinds of movies should base on the truth, but that was all lie. shame on those people, who want to change the history.
setare on Apr 14, 2007
Wonderful movie .......................what else i can say ...amazing to see what a man with strong conviction can achieve !!!
Ranjan Bhandari on Oct 11, 2007
I have never ever seen a film like this.....................And i have seen it 5 times. brought the cd. Amazing......................................
jeffryglen on Aug 28, 2008
Popcorn theatre at it's very worst. I saw this film for free but I am still annoyed that I had invested and lost that time to see it. Awful film
Lynn on Sep 24, 2008
Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.