Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Because of the large number of movies that I see, I’ve pretty much begun to grade these things on a curve.  Yeah, maybe ‘Wild Hogs’ wasn’t the most complete movie around, but at least it made me laugh, so we apply the movie curve, and instead of trashing the damn thing, we give it a marginal passing grade.  Sure Ghost Rider was pretty much nonsensical crap, but when you apply the movie curve which takes into account that it HAD to be a parody of some kind, it only fails mildly.  Well home team, Warner Brothers ‘300’ has turned out to be that annoying smart kid that sits in the front of the class, answering all of the questions and ruining the curve for everybody because this movie kicks ass.

Now you would think a man with a vocabulary as vast as mine could have thought of something more clever to say other than ‘kicks ass’, but that would pretty much sum it up.  Welcome to the world Before Christ, where Persia, led by self proclaimed God Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), has become the empire the sun never sets on.  Xerxes is now ready to take Greece, but as he readily admits, he is a kind and benevolent God.  He would much rather you submit to slavery and subjugation than slaughter you into it.  Getting Greece to submit, Xerxes realizes, would be so much easier if he could just convince Sparta, and its king Leonitus (Gerald Butler), to kneel before him without a fight.  If Xerxes knows Spartans like we know Spartans, then he knows the chances of that happening are unlikely.

Unfortunately for the great King Leonitus, who is just itching for a scrap, the oracles upon high have forbade him against going to war against the Persians, which would

ultimately allow them to walk in and simply take what they want.  Finding this option intolerable, the king decides to take 300 of his best men, all men with sons to carry on their name, to join him for a ‘leisurely walk’ north to have quiet talk with the marauding Persians.  Sure, it’s a suicide mission, but apparently Spartans, like Klingons, spend their lives searching for a glorious death.  Lunatics.

Simple enough isn’t it?  300 Spartans versus 30,000 Persians… maybe they should have gotten a few more.  Based on a graphic novel by the legendary Frank Miller, Director Zack Snyder has taken the drawings and brought them to glorious, stylized, unbelievable life.  I had to search long and hard to try to find something even slightly negative to say about this movie, and I think I found something, but we’ll get to that later.

Visually, ‘300’ is a tour de force.  As you are probably aware, the entire movie was shot on green screen, similar to the Frank Miller Graphic Novel ‘Sin City’, but to far greater effect than even the amazing ‘Sin City’ was able to achieve.  The sound in this film was also phenomenal, as an example as I was sitting on press row, some old dude film critic next to me literally watched the whole movie with his fingers in ears.  I kid you not.  I’m surprised he didn’t stand up and yell ‘Would you damn kids turn that crap down!’    If it’s too loud for old people, then it’s just right for me.  The action in ‘300’ was brutal, and I mean brutal, relentless, unyielding and non stop.  It’s also arguably the most violent film I’ve ever seen, with plenty of slow-mo so you can see every dismembering, beheading, deboweling in glorious detail.  As an example, when the movie ended, two round chicks on critics row on the other side of me, commented that the movie was ‘too violent’.  Yo baby, this wasn’t ‘When Harry met Sally’, or ‘You got Mail’.  This was a movie about angry, near naked dudes, slaughtering other angry near naked dudes while their angry near naked wives waited for them at home.  If it’s too violent for the ‘Failure to Launch’ crowd, then it’s just right for me.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with this movie, but if I had to pinpoint something, I would say it lacked an emotional attachment.  Say similar to ‘Braveheart’.  Now, ‘300’ kicked total ass, but it was no ‘Braveheart’, which should tell you to what great regard I hold the movie ‘Braveheart’.  But where ‘Braveheart’ took three hours to carefully, and masterfully craft the tale of William Wallace, complete with a strong emotional attachment to the characters, ‘300’ on the other hand takes two hours to simply blow you the hell out of your movie seat.  Since the film leaned so heavily on its battles and action sequences, it really didn’t stop or take the time to emotionally attach you to the characters.  But don’t get me wrong, the actors were interesting and involving, and though I had never heard of actor Gerald Butler before this film, I doubt seriously they could have found a better choice for King Leonitus.  All of the actors involved, including the lovely Lena Headey as the wife of Leonitus, Queen Gorgo, were outstanding .  Recognize though, that in the pantheon of movie hard asses, King Leonitus could possibly be the hardest of them all.  Leonitus would seriously take Maximus from ‘Gladiator’ and make him his girlfriend.

If your one who likes to bootleg movies and watch blurry Cam copies, don’t waste your time.  This is one of those that HAS to be seen on the big screen with the surround sound blasting, making old dudes ears bleed.  ‘300’ was a great, great film and a great time at the movies.  So sadly for the movies to follow, ‘300’ is most definitely a curve buster to the extreme, so don’t expect another good review from me for any other film for at least until next semester.

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