Prepare for Glory!
Running Time: 117 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
The jury is still very much out concerning Zach Snyder’s 300. A lot has been made of the historical inaccuracies and over-stylised battle scenes of this swords-and-sandals CGI-fest but 300 is essentially an adaptation of a graphic novel (picture book) and only loosely based on the events of the at the Hot Gates in 480BC.
In Snyder’s visually impressive way, 300 follows the heroic exploits of the three hundred Spartan soldiers who kept a vast Persian army at bay at the Battle of Thermopalae in Greece for days before heroically succumbing. The Spartans are lead by pigheaded Leonides (Butler) in battle and their Queen (Headley) fights against sleazy politicians, like Theron (West), back home on the diplomatic front.
This is not a dry historical epic from the likes of Oliver Stone, but an action packed, visually stunning spectacle, based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller. However impressive the exploits of the Spartans were, this would basically just be a two hour film following the slaughter of half the Persian army, if it weren’t for the monsters and excellent choreography that are liberally sprinkled into the action to relieve any chance of tedium. Yes, Miller made the Persians look like a bunch of monstrous savages and debauched party boys but I hope to God that anyone who watches the film will not take this for a history lesson.
The dialogue and drama is very cringeworthy at times but it also provides some excellent rentaquotes, including ‘This is Sparta!’ and ‘Tonight, we dine in hell!’. Unfortunately, the almost ever-present voiceover intrusively confirms what is happening on-screen throughout the film as our narrator spouts verbal diarrhoea along the lines of “The rain was beating down and Leonidis was getting wet”. Although these captions do give the film a comic book feel, this is a film not a book. With the heroes clad in nappies, a strong homoerotic subtext with no hint of irony and stylised fight scenes, 300 is ripe for satire and many ‘comedians’, in only a few years since, have done so mercilessly but very lazily indeed (see Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans – no, actually, don’t see them – as appalling examples).
It's Got: Impressive CGI, a film in which I don't want to hurt Gerard Butler, nappies.
It Needs: To strip down the intrusive voiceover, to be watched in the right spirit.
DVD Extras The Two Disc Special Edition includes Director's Commentary, "The 300 Fact or Fiction?" and the 14-minute "Frank Miller Tapes" short documentaries, deleted scenes and 38 minutes of bonus material consisting of a dozen webisodes and behind the scenes footage. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10
Historically inaccurate and over the top it may be, but this lesson in how to use CGI properly is certainly a lot of fun. Unless, of course, you are the Dictator of Iran.