Monday, March 19, 2007


RUNTIME: 117 min.
RATING: *****

300, simply put, has reinvented the sword and sandal spectacles. Zack Snyder, who incidentally reinvented the zombie genre with his debut feature film DAWN OF THE DEAD, I’ve heard got the financers to shell the $70 million that the movie cost on one big statement- this will change the way sword and sandal spectacles are mad. And the best compliment I can come up with is that 300 does to this genre what SAVING PRIVATE RYAN did to the war movies. After the shameful addition of TROY and ALEXANDER to this genre, we finally have a movie that is more than worthy of being compared to such greats as SPARCATUS, BRAVEHEART and GLADIATOR. Rather, 300 ought to be compared to THE MATRIX and TERMINATOR 2: THE JUDGMENT DAY because it provides terrific entertainment and will stand as one of the favorite guy movies.
Frank Miller was so influenced by THE 300 SPARTANS (1962), a movie more conventional to the movies of this genre, that he adapted the historical event into the award winning graphic novel 300. Based on the famed Battle of Thermopylae, one of the greatest last stands in history and the ultimate contributor behind the lore surrounding the Spartans, the graphic novel won huge acclaim. Zack Snyder, much like Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s SIN CITY, stays loyal to Miller’s vision. In fact, Snyder has stated that his ultimate aim was to bring Miller’s images on to the screen.
The plot is essentially simple. Xerses, the mighty ruler of Persia declares his intention of annexing the kingdom of Sparta. He intends to make them his slaves and in the process strengthen his claim to be the one true king of the world, and the god of all. But Spartans, led by Leonidas have other ideas and being slaves to some other ruler was not one of them. The result, the Battle of Thermopylae.
There’s a school of thought that perceive cinema essentially as a visual medium and there is another that see it as a narrative medium. 300 has just made the case for the former stronger without ever compromising on the latter. A movie sure should be visually stunning but beneath the entire spectacle it needs to have substance, some soul. Great spectacles like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, SPARCATUS, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, TERMINTOR 2: THE JUDGMENT DAY stand the test of time and repeated viewings only because of the soul they have. 300, much in the tradition of these movies, doesn’t rely on spectacle but brings to you the very of heart of a Spartan.
The in your face spectacularly over the top performances are a sheer joy to watch, especially that of Gerald Butler as King Leonidas. Laura Hayde, amongst all the masculinity and abs makes more than a mark. Credit in fact should go to the screenplay by Snyder that etches each and every character in your memory. The story could be simple minded, but when the characters are so distinguished and the movie so full of heart, it all is just trivial.
Zack Snyder is a visual genius. Each and every frame presents the 300 Spartans as larger than life superheroes. Each of these men could well walk down into Gotham city and help Batman fight crime. His imagery is absolutely spot on. I never thought I could say this but Zack Snyder has just showed me what I would put as aesthetic violence. I never knew those words could be used together but Snyder has just done that.
The battle sequences, the main draw of 300, are one of the best-filmed things ever, I mean ever, and that includes Battle of MinasTirith. I would not want to divulge anything more and rob you of one of cinema’s most spectacular experiences of modern times.
Some critics have gone to complain about the skin-deep reality of 300 and its erroneous historical viewpoint. 300 the movie, as has 300 the novel, has kept most of the facts correct. We sure could argue about the skewed representation of the Persians and Xerses and that it is the Spartan viewpoint we’re looking at but that would be beside the point. 300 isn’t history, it isn’t gunning to put its facts right. It is the Spartan lore we are being presented with the larger than life characters in a larger than life battle. Ephialtes, the traitor is hunch backed just to show his sorry life. The five ephors are shown diseased to bring out the dark soul they possess. This could as well be mythology with Zeus coming down from the heavens and reign hell on the Persians hordes. This is a celebration of bravery, of honor and of course Spartans. I think Miller could not have imagined a better adaptation of his work.
I repeat, 300 is an experience, the likes of which come very rarely and should not be missed. Few movies are so spectacularly rich and so full of heart. The last time that happened, we had ourselves the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. I don’t know how SPIDERMAN 3 and PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: AT WORLD’S END are going to top this one but boy aren’t I geared up for the summer. 300 is a movie the likes of which you have not seen before, I assure you.


Anonymous said...

This movie doesn't stand a chance in front of Gladiator or Lord of The Rings.These movies aren't just for special effects or raw power or violence.These movies stand for their emotions , story line and much more...
I don't think 300 earns any point except for special effects and some good slow action scenes.


Anonymous said...

You say that the movie stands as visually stunning. I find a lot of sequences derivative of GLADIATOR. And with much lesser overall effect. I see below your review of Van Helsing. I find 300 very much like Van Helsing with respect to its visual appeal. Althought you're lauding 300 immensely for its emotional depth, I for one find it very weak on that front. Please don't compare 300 with the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. I(f anything, this movie draws comparison to them only for its visual effects. And even these visual effects aren't as relevant as the sequences were in LOTR. The visual effects were simply to stun and not exactly coherent to the story as was the case with LORD OF THE RINGS.


Anonymous said...


I am not taking any side.

I have a question.

For ‘300’, you write that it does not matter if it is historically wrong and quite vociferous about it.

For ‘Apocalypto’, you strongly repudiate, and write it is gross misrepresentation of mayans. By the logic that u have given for 300 that it is perfectly all right if it is wrong, it is like comic and people who say otherwise have very littile knowledge, u in ur movie review critcicize apocalypto very strongly for historical mistake. U also criticize for its first line that civilizations build on other and nothing in movie……

And one more thing if I remember , I cant remember…..

U otherwise praise the presentation and graphics and all.

If 300 can show one side of war that too in wrong way with lot of bloodbath, how does it become unnecessary show of blood bath in apocalypto for some other wrong reason and pretention.

If child birth is ridiculously shown in apocalypto, how are those giants and special kinds of species shown so perfectly in 300? Why is human political mind so nicely portrayed, there is lot to go in mind and much more can be told about the elseworth tooheys and peter keatings.

Apocalypto, in that case shows what tribes are all about. What Arayns did when they invaded Indus valley. What Mongols did when they mixed with turks to conquer iran. What would have attcaked of Huns, Goths, Shaks, Kushans, been?

What happened when Babylonians conquered Israel?

How zoroasterians were persecuted in Iran and Buddhists and Hindus in Hindu Kush, Afghanistan, along banks of Oxus?

What tribe was? What super tribe is? Yes apocalypto very much misses ?

But so does 300

The dress up and colours of Persian was so wrong? Medains and Persians, both were and probably very much still are pure Aryans. They were and almost are pure white. Till they were not occupied by Arabs and Turks and all. The Zoroasterian religion had started in Iran then. People were free.There were Jews probably. When Persians had occupied Israel, they allowed Jews to return, whom Babylonians had asked to go away.

This discussion can go very long.

I am more or less in agreement with you but it is nice to be self analytic/critic some time.

Please do not take anything personal.

I admire your knowledge and intend to learn a lot from u.

Sumit Singh