300 (2006)

xnEMOD2“300” is really nothing more than a movie about war. It’s about a society that paints war as heroic, and beautiful, about a society that views death in battle as heroic, and unflinching loyalty to government as brave. And yet, we know better. But this was the society. This is society period. It’s not difficult to see what the subtext is if you look hard enough.”300” though is also a beautiful action film that stages every scene as a living painting. Frank Miller, in spite of my disagreement with his views, is a wonderful writer. And he without a doubt set the stage for many writers to explore new domains in the comic book world.

He rewrote Batman and Daredevil to much critical acclaim, and have you ever read the “Sin City” novels? Sure, the movie was great, but the novels are better. It was only logical that “300” would be turned into a movie sooner or later. This is a testosterone soaked, violent bloody celebration of war and gladiators, and I loved it. Every once in a blue moon I have to see a movie that’s just for me. In this female dominated, man-hating, neo-feminist society, men deserve their own time every now and then. You can patronize and proclaim this as a movie for teenager video gamers, but I’m not a teenager nor am I a video gamer.

And I enjoyed “300” in all its cheesy glory. You have to give it to Snyder. How he’s able to rebound from the sheer cheesiness that was “Dawn of the Dead” to bring us a visual spectacle such as this, is a big feat. “300” and its beauty are not just in the landscapes but in the amazing battle scenes that I simply flipped for. What was most daunting though, were people’s declarations that the film glorified war. However, there’s not a single glorification here. War is gory and damaging, and both sides of the grudge are filled with despicable sadistic warriors.

There is even a moment where the Spartans are casually speaking while viciously ending survivors on a battlefield. There’s nothing of glory in this, aside from the wonderfully staged battle scenes that did nothing to make me wish I was a soldier. It made me wish I was as buff as these gents, but that’s beside the point. “300” is a sheer balls to the wall gladiator epic, and really does capture the bold nature Frank Miller is capable of. Whine about his political views another time, Miller’s writing is epic, and he’s reflected perfectly by Snyder in “300,” as the Spartans battle the Persians to their inevitable downfall, thanks to their delusions of grandeur.

Gerard Butler’s performance is entertaining, as King Leonidas, a man who refused to be bullied by the Persians and knew of the odds of his people by refusing to be pushed around, and he’s a scene stealer. “300” is a spectacle, and one I intend on seeing again. “300” is a movie that sells itself. No actors were mentioned in the trailers, and for good reason. The real meat and bones are in the visuals. Sadly, the visuals are most of the time the only thing appealing to “300.” In the area of story, Snyder’s film is awfully slim and simplistic. It’s the journey of the Spartans to their battle with the Persians. That’s all.

They walk and travel, and walk through battle lands, and eventually confront the epic battle. There’s really nothing to the film in terms of a thick rich story. I don’t know if the original graphic novel was this scarce, but I was disappointed. I wanted much more of a story. And instead I received a visual treat, with nothing really else to show for it. In the terms of story, “300” is slim, but visually, it’s a wonderful piece of gladiator cinema with great performances, excellent direction, and fantastic battle scenes. This is a flick for guys, so grab a few beers, pull up a chair and have a blast.