300 (2007)

Time to revel in the glory of warfare -- old school! Specifically, 480 B.C. when three hundred Spartans held off the Persian army at the battle of Thermopylae. This tale of a small force against a massive one is based on Frank Miller's comic book 300, and much like his SIN CITY comic and film adaption, 300 is an over-the-top tale of tough guys and evil degenerates.

The massive Persian army is on the march, and their "god-king" Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) demands a tribute of "earth and water" from Sparta. King Leonidas (Gerald Butler) refuses, seeing Greece as entering an age of reason and logic, and a capitulation to a self-proclaimed god as a step backwards. But the mystics (who Leonidas sees as a throwback to supersition) refuse to let him send the Spartan army, so Leonidas circumvents this by assembling his personal bodyguard of three hundred Spartans and taking a walk -- to the narrow pass where he believes his small band of soldiers can hold off the larger army.

This movie isn't as slavishly literal to its comic book as Sin City was. The primary addition is the political struggle in Sparta where Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) argues for the army to be sent. The main focus, though, is combat. The Spartans all wield their shield, spear, and sword to dispatch soldiers with an abundance of gore and slow motion.

300 is extraordinarily simplistic in its portrayal of good and evil. All the Spartans soldiers are heroes (even despite an opening showing that the babies deemed physically unfit are left to die), dressed and armed the same. Their adversaries are all extravagant, either through unuusal weapons (ranging from a giant to armored rhino) or degenerate lifestyle (Xerxes carried on a platform of slaves, an orgy of heavily-bejewelled women). The deformed Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan) professes to help, but turns traitor when told he is unfit for combat. The exception is Theron (Dominic West), but he is such a loathsome character with no redeeming qualities that he exists solely for the audience to hate. And everyone who opposes Leonidas is corrupt, of course.

For all its black-and-white brushstrokes, 300 remains an exciting movie. The story moves along well, the combat is very exciting, and the film takes us to a world where bravery and sacrifice were all that soldiers desired.

Overall Grade: B+

Reviewed by Jim Lynch


Kasey said...

You are one of the few "real" people I've found who enjoyed this film. All of the critics hated it. I am going to seriously reconsider seeing it.

And will bookmark your blog so I can return for more reviews.

digitaldoc said...

Glad you enjoyed the review Kasey. We definitely think independently around here, and often don't agree with the more mainstream critics.

Michael Owens said...

I agreed with your assesment. Visually and viscerally entertaining, but overly simplistic verging on cheesy.A good time at the movies, but nothing groundbreaking. The oracle scene with the gauzy dress was pretty cool though.