I was at a bit of a loss as what to review before my review of “Pineapple Express” tomorrow. I decided to just scan my film collection from beginning to end. I didn’t even get past the first film. (Yes, I put my DVDs/Blu-rays in alphabetical order. E-mail me and tell me how sad I am) Back on track- it’s “300” reviewing time.
Since I’ve seen rather a lot of films, I would consider my averageflick-o-meter to be pretty bang on the money. Imagine my surprise when I walked out of “300” with a satisfied smile on my face and read the reviews. The words “average” and “splatter-fest” were the most common. OK, it’s no “Citizen Kane” or “The Godfather” but it’s an above average film in my eyes.
The film itself is an adaptation on Frank “Sin City” Miller’s comic mini-series (as in a comic book, not slapstick or stand-up!) “300”. The story is loosely based on the historical battle of Thermopylae in which 300 Spartans fought against the entire Persian army (a force consisting of many hundreds of thousands of soldiers).
“A thousand nations of the Persian Empire descend upon you. Our arrows will blot out the sun!”
“300” is a very visually striking film. A lot of effort has been put in to make it as much like the comic as possible. This is by no means a bad thing as Frank Miller, in my opinion, has one of the most visually accomplished minds in recent years. The man’s a born cinematographer. The fact that some of the most interesting shots in both “Sin City” and “300” were ripped directly from the pages of his graphic novels cannot be ignored. I love the style of “300”. The grainy, sepia toned picture gives the impression of a true battle story, told to the soldiers to inspire them- exactly what is presented to us in the opening of the film. Sure, “300” isn’t exactly historically accurate what with the monsters, rhinos and so forth, but I believe this is a clever trick by the filmmakers. We are being presented with a fireside story, something which would be embellished and changed over time.
As for the “splatterfest” remarks, well yes, I will admit that it is very violent. Dismemberment is as commonplace as rippling six packs. However, this is stylised violence and whilst pretty gory at times, it’s fun to watch rather than being stomach churning.
“Give them nothing! But take from them everything!”
The actors and actresses are all fine. There’s no dodgy acting to weigh it down. Gerard Butler’s Leonidas started to get on my nerves after a while as Butler’s Scottish accent kept coming through, especially the way he delivers the “Earth and water. You’ll find plenty down there” line. It sounded like he was spoiling for a fight in a rough Glasgow pub, rather than threatening a Persian messenger. This is minor nit-picking though.
The one thing that actually annoyed me about “300” was the constant references to freedom and being free. To me, this just seems like a lame attempt to get American audiences to identify with the film. They seem to be expecting Johnny P. Yankee to scream “Whoo! Freedom! Fuck yeah!” everytime the damn word is uttered. Surely to get an audience to identify with the film you focus on the story and rely on the strength of it, rather than making tenuous links with the present political situation?
As I’ve said- “300” is a great film. If you were put off by decidedly average reviews or pretentious history devotees, see it. Make up your own mind-for freedom, for glory, for honour, for Sparta!