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Prepare For Glory...300

Rating: 4.5
By TheUsualSuspect
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Posted on 3/09/07

"300 Joins The Matrix, Star Wars, and Citizen Kane As Films That Changed Cinema"

Based on Frank Miller's graphic novel, "300" centres on the 300 Spartans that defended their freedom with their lives against an army of thousands.

What can one say about "300" that hasn't already been said? One simply has to watch the trailer to know exactly what they are getting themselves into when they go to see "300", a visually stunning film that piles the bodies high and blood splatter higher. Without a well known cast and a director that only has one film under his belt it would take something impressive to attract people. The "300" trailer did just this, as hype of the film spread like wildfire throughout the internet and months before it's release was being hailed as the next big thing in cinema. Well, the film has finally arrived and it's safe to say that you can add it to the list along with: "The Matrix", "Star Wars", "LOTR" and "Citizen Kane" as films that have changed the way we look at cinema.

"300" opens with a back-story to a normal starting life of a Spartan, if the baby is born too small or too weak, it's literally tossed off a cliff. Taught to fight as early as he can walk, the Spartan must learn to be tough and leave no room for weakness. Every Spartan must go through a test, in the film's case it was against a wolf. This has been done for years and you get the sense that these guys are serious. The film has two different stories, one is the obvious: 300 Spartans vs Persian Army, the other is The Queen back in Sparta dealing with the fact her husband might die. It's her duty to get more soliders out there to his aid, but not everyone in Sparta is supporting her cause. Now, it doesn't take a genius to know that most of the story centres on the battle and everyone will want the story to centre on the Spartans. It seemed to me that the point of the queens story is to take deep breaths so the viewer can regroup themselves.

"300" is the second film based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller. "Sin City" generated the same amount of hype across the globe and has its own unique visual style. If "Sin City" was the first step into the next generation of film, then "300" is a giant leap. Its beautiful colours are enough to draw an audience regardless of the films quality. Lucky for us it's not just its visual style that makes the film good. Shot entirely on green screen, Snyder is able to create a world full of muscular Spartans, ugly monsters and violent battle scenes, creatively and effectively. The tans/yellows of the battle ground provide a great backdrop for the red coated Spartans. Boy, does that red ever jump out at you too.

Knowing the history of Spartans, the film is not totally accurate, but it gets the basics down. These warriors were born to be fighters and nothing else. The filmmakers intended to not be historically accurate in order to give an entertaining film, and it works like a charm. This is something "Troy" and "Alexander" suffered from greatly. Hearing the story that only 300 men defended themselves against thousands upon thousands could raise a few eyebrows. That's until you see these warriors and their lifestyles. They don't have normal professions back home. They're not blacksmiths or carpenters, as one character says, they're warriors, that's their profession. These men were meant to fight and the actors look spot on. Gerard Butler, whom I only recognize fro the Tomb Raider sequel, embodies what a Spartan is. Here's a guy who made me believe he was an actual Spartan. He has just the right amount of honours and leadership to command the army and the film; he does so with ease. Hidden behind a beard and his helmet for most of the film, Butler pulls off a great performance of a man who is not afraid to be on the front lines in battle. It's an honest performance that could take some by surprise, if you think the film is only about yelling Sparta every couple of seconds, you're only half right.

Snyder is quickly becoming a favourite of mine. Here is a young guy with obvious talent, who took on two difficult films that had an audience before the film was released. Creating a worthy remake with "Dawn of the Dead", Snyder tackled this project head on. Working on digital only enhances the creativity this guy can bring to a project. Only time will tell if he can solidify himself in the business with his next undertaking of "The Watchmen".

Much like Miller's other work, "300" is a brutal film that doesn't let up with its content. The film tells you point blank that it's going to be bloody violent and it actually keeps its promise. Only once or twice does it slow down for some dialogue, to let the viewer settle down after watching an onslaught of violence. The violence is stylized, mixing fast and slow motion left right and centre. The blood is CGI and legs, heads and arms do fly off at every corner. But the violence is stylized so much, that in the end the gore factor doesn't seem like a lot. You know you're watching gory images, but it doesn't send chills down your spine, instead you simply think, "That was cool". The entire film plays out like a wet dream to every movie aficionado, video game player, comic book reader (sorry graphic novel reader) out there. It's a shame that Alan Moore hasn't had as good a time at the movies as Frank Miller has, graphic novel adaptations need visionary directors. Snyder is one of these visonary directors that can only grow with more time and expeirence.

I totally recommend "300", for anyone looking for a visionary film and who's not afraid of violence on the screen. It's a roller-coaster ride that only ends when the screen turns black. The final moments of the film gave me goose bumps and there are too many beautiful scenes to name one as my favourite. "300" earns its R rating; it's a hard nose slobber-knocker. The body count is in the thousands and the blood is in the gallons. For a fully enjoyable experience, one should see this on IMAX. If you really want to know what "300" is like, it's basically the trailer, extended past two hours.

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