Director : Zack Snyder
Starring : Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Vincent Regan, Michael Fassbender, Andrew Plevan, Andrew Tiernan, Rodrigo Santoro . USA | Canada | Bulgaria | Australia. 1h 57m
Out of all of the graphic novels and comics I’ve read over the years, this was surprisingly one I never considered to be a good candidate for a film adaptation. While I stand divided on if it should have been created, I’m forever blown away by every aspect 300, even with all the campy parodies and piss takes, for me, at least it’s still a rocking stylised story of ultimate bravery and sacrifice, but with so many of the pages from the novel coming to life periodically throughout the action, it seems I was wrong and 300 was made for the big screen.
Frank Miller has a lot to answer for, a god of comics, he’s written some of the most charismatic graphic novels of modern time which in turn, has given us the most impressive films of our generation. Each one capturing it’s personal stylised look and feel, showing that each story should have a signature style and identity. It could be argued that pulling everything from the comic was a bit much for the cinema but you can’t deny that the texture of the story works so well intact.
Do not be coy or stupid, Persian. You can afford neither in Sparta!
Sadly, whenever you attempt to create a wholesome story filled with ultimate bravado it creates a lot of fuss, most of it resonates from its utter manliness which is cleverly side stepped as it’s based on a heavily sexist culture and does nothing to challenge that perception and in turn it also fucked off Iran, proposing that their Persian ancestors were savages!! Nearly every character is suited with a desire to fight to their bloody death, a 6-12 pack, glorious hair and cracking one liners. It’s enough to make any man or woman weak at the knees, but for all the swishing capes and firm bodies came a ton of parodies, namely Meet The Spartans (2008).
For the most part 300 is all about the numbers and yet it seems to get them all muddled, it’s few against many, one king and 300 guards against an army of millions, did you spot the first error? There’s already 301 plus a rejected spartan and a handful of other Greeks who join the party, so the 300 is already looking like 350, but the sentiment of standing up for your rights not matter the number is achieved and championed.
A fairly placid and calculating King, Leonidas (Butler) is troubled by a proposal from a GodKing Xerxes (Santoro), who is slowly taking over the known world, amassing the greatest army his next target is Sparta. Obviously these guys aren’t going to be pushovers they have a long history of Spartan bravery bred into them, the movie opens with an insight into a young boy (Leonidus) defending himself from a giant wolf using his cunning and strength, if your kids fight for water and take out hairy beasts as part of their homework then you have a society of brutal killers on your hands. Unfortunately the king is in the minority when it comes to the Persian invasion, a lot of his dignitaries have been bought off by Xerxes’s negotiators, it seems a deadly army isn’t always the sharpest tool, money and bitches go a long way. Nevertheless Leonids has a crafty trick to defend his country, going against all the political red tape and even the words of the Oracle. The king takes his trusted 300 guards as he heads to the Hot Gates AKA The Thermopylae and the battle commences.
Spartans, tonight, we dine in hell!
Snyder infuses a wealth of imagery along with a well written novel and all the wealth of history to lean back on, when creating this bronze epic filled with bravery, courage and a bromance between two adorable Spartans played by Michael Fassbender and Tom Wisdom. Cutting between kill scenes, is some mediocre but essential drama surrounding the Queen (Headey) back at home in Persia fighting her own political battles trying to get an audience with a committee to send the entire army to aid the king, somehow at every turn some man, more superior to her is pulling strings and she’s total my isolated, but the films magic is with the 300 fit, strategically minded warriors and their bloody encounters.
The screen is awash with warm metallics and splashes of blackened blood the battlefields are where the movie made a generation sit back in awe. With its winning combination of hard bodies, bejeweled enemies, slo mo action and sharply enhanced gore, 300 became a marketable brand as a well recognised movie. Xerxes, played by the multi talented Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro brings his own carnival of wonders, mutilated bodies, an axe man who would be at home in Hellraiser, goat headed musicians and ornate wrecking crew attempt to bring the pain.
Love or hate it, you can’t deny that 300 is a complete unit of a film., Wall to wall bravery, a solid iconic style that’s not easily mistaken for anything else, it managed to survive all the ridicule and parodies, but sadly couldn’t survive the tragedy of It’s sequel.
Related: 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
Lists: Comic to Film
Spotlight: Gerard Butler