300 is based on the Frank Miller graphic
novel of the same name and it follows the valiant stand of 300 Spartans
under the command of King Leonidas (Butler) against
the invading horde of Persian King Xerxes. Director Zack
Snyder’s most recent work was the gory and entertaining
Dawn Of The Dead remake. Miller and Snyder collaborated
and used computers to fill in the background to make the movie as
true to the look of the graphic novel as possible.
300 paints a lot of very pretty slow motion pictures
as the statuesque Spartans thrust their big pointy spears over and
over, releasing sprays of CGI blood. The movie uses this trick more
than once, and after the 300th, time even hot stuff like this leaves
the audience unsatisfied and bored by repetition. The 300 fight
against a horde of adversaries—men, beasts, and magic—dispatching
all in pretty much the same way (spear thrusting), while the Persians’
attacks bounce harmlessly off the Spartans’ abs of steel.
King Leonidas preaches to his men more than a few times about
an age of freedom he and his men are trying to create/preserve.
To offset King Leonidas’ idealism, the soldiers serving under
him appear to be nothing more than a bunch of kill-crazy psychos
ready to fight and die just for the fun of it. Most of Gerard Butler’s
performance is snarling or shouting at the camera, but when he told
his men to “Prepare for Glory,” I almost ripped off
my shirt and joined the Spartan ranks to do battle with the enemy.
Not too long into the movie, über-buff King Leonidas and
his scrumptious wife Gorgo (Headey) get down for
some of the “sexuality and nudity” that helped this
movie earn its R rating. This scene exists for reasons beyond merely
titillating the audience; it proves beyond any shadow of a doubt
that King Leonidas (and by implication all Spartan men) is not homosexual.
To help break up the non-stop action, the movie follows two subplots.
In one the camera lingers on Gorgo a little more while she reminds
the Spartan council that “Freedom isn’t free, and it
is worth paying the highest cost for!” and anyone who doesn’t
agree with her is in fact a traitor to the very ideals of freedom.
The other involves the most sympathetic character in the entire
movie, Ephialtes, a deformed man whose most fervent desire is to
fight alongside the Spartans. The super-model Spartans react to
his offer with revulsion and scorn and even wise King Leonidas can
only give him a job as a janitor. King Xerxes may have offered Ephialtes
women and wealth, but the seduction was complete with a few kind
words. Given this choice it is little wonder Ephialtes chose to
be a star in hell rather than a slave in heaven.
300 promised “graphic battle sequences throughout”
and with all these distractions does it deliver? Yes! When the 300
charge forward directly into the camera, the film has its proverbial
“money shot” as the invincible Spartans crush all who
would dare take the field against them. The Spartans’ true
motivations may be lost with them, but the pondering of those things
is better left to the “boy-loving Athenians.” The Spartans’
stand at Thermopylae is a thing of legend and 300 does
justice to that legend with larger-than-life effects and a lot of