by: Zack Snyder
Butler, Lena Headey, Dominick West, Rodrigo Santoro
Released by: Warner Bros.
Short: Ancient war is hell, but an extremely
enjoyable experience in the safety of a big-screen
Book Style Wins the War
around the world are eagerly awaiting this week’s
release of “300,” the cinematic translation
of Frank Miller’s popular graphic novel; they,
and other, less-comic-book-obsessed filmgoers who love
a good action yarn, will be extremely satisfied with
this visually arresting flick.
Director and co-writer Zack Snyder
leaps full-bore into this oft-told tale of the 300 Spartans
who died so famously at the Battle of Thermopylae in
480 B.C. Focusing on Leonidas, the ultra-macho king played
with gusto (and a serious washboard stomach) by British
actor Gerard Butler, the story begins in Sparta, where
boys are trained from birth to be killing machines, warriors
without compare. It’s a good thing, too, since
Xerxes, the ruthless Persian king, and his army of more
than 100,000 soldiers are threatening their Greek city-state.
Using a visually arresting film technique
that drains almost all the color out of the screen image,
Snyder creates a unique world that allows us to completely
give over to the experience of being back in a time when
honor and distinction during wartime were the overriding
factors of life. Add in the crazy visuals of the Persian
king and his strangely mutated slave soldiers juxtaposed
against the scantily clad Spartan hardbodies, and “300” becomes
a veritable visual feast.
It is something of an allegory, too,
with some pretty obvious references to the Persian encroachment
into the Spartan lands as a parallel to what is happening
in the world today, but that is a minor part of the overall
story. It’s mostly a basic tale of strong men who
will fight to the death to protect their home and family,
even against insurmountable odds.
The film is not the best pick
for the faint of heart. It is a brutal, no-holds-barred
look at ancient wartime practices, and the only color
that seeps through onto the screen is the red of the
gallons of blood shed on the way to the Spartans’ inevitable
defeat. Limbs fly, heads roll, face it, hand-to-hand
combat in the 5th Century B.C. wasn’t pretty,
but it sure makes for a fascinating big-screen experience.
And make sure to see this one in a theater, as the
visuals are made for the theater, not your living room.