Cover Art/Menu: 8/10
I’m not one for pecs and abs, but you gotta give this guy a nod for presenting us with a living breathing version of all those old crumbling Greek statues. I see this movie as pure fun and adventure. The cover doesn’t have much more than that to live up to. I actually like it, the cover. Stranger things have happened. The menu is just a still image with some music, nothing flashy or interesting.
Director, Screenwriter & DP Commentary Track – The director is pretty matter of fact about every scene. He points out the shots that are out of the graphic novel, how they made scenes work technically, and mentions the budget and other constraints often. For 60 million I’m not sure what he was complaining about. It’s a good commentary if you really enjoyed the movie and want to hear more about how they put it all together.
The Movie: 7/10
Greek history has it’s drama and spectacle. It’s perfect for story telling and movie making. It’s always got men who become warriors by vicious, heartless training from a young age. There are often vast armies scouring all of the eastern hemisphere conquering everything in their path to spread their way of life. Mixed in with the truth there are tales of greatness and idealistic battles, good vs. evil, tyranny vs. freedom. That’s where 300 fits in the history books, kind of.
Don’t watch this movie thinking you are getting any version of historic fact or pure fiction. It’s a fair combination, but presented as an action packed story of bravery, devotion, and the spirit of preserving one’s cultural history, lifestyle, and beliefs through serious bloodshed and military strategy with a pinch of human strength and sacrifice thrown in for good measure.
That might sound a bit heavy, and I might be reading more into than is really there, but that’s what I took away from 300. A man, King Lionidis, faces the harsh reality that a dictator of sorts, Xerxes, is sweeping all of the free world. The self absorbed and powerful leader’s armies are destroying everything in their path just to give even more power to their “god king”.
Sparta is the last hold of Greek civilization with their traditions and way of life. They are the last symbol of freedom. Lionidis, and his men, have trained their entire lives to defend Sparta. They stand ready to die for what they believe in. Xerxes with all the armies of the world at his feet does not know he might have just met his match in the 300 Spartans waiting for him at The Hot Gates.
The Spartans devise a plan to defeat the millions of soldiers headed their way. As with any plan there are weaknesses they may not be able to overcome. They are men after all. Despite their hard exterior and willingness to kill endlessly, gruesomely, to defend their honor, they have feelings too. Uh huh, they do, honest.
A woman…that’s right, a woman. The queen like other Spartan women are strong, tough like their men. She not only holds Lionidis’s heart, he seems to consider her as an equal in strategic matters. When a Persian messenger comes bearing the skulls of conquered kings as a show of strength to give Lionidis a chance to surrender to Xerxes, well, I won’t give away the ending of that little exchange, but I will say that the king confers with his queen before making a move.
So, we have men who love women. These are men who love their children, men who want to live in peace. They just happen to sever heads and arms and legs and stuff like that to get’er’done. Even when they build a stone wall using enemy soldiers as mortar between the rocks, they are so loveable: ) With these human attributes they are bound to leave a small space for something to go wrong in their campaign to slaughter countless hordes of soldiers.
With the story to keep in mind, we are also treated to a style of film making I haven’t seen before, exactly. They take a lot of old school techniques and add modern twists to make this movie look amazing at times. That being said, it also has it’s moments of questionable visual effects. The good outweighs the bad, but it’s always unfortunate to hit a bad patch in a movie that’s mostly a “visual feast” (as quoted from Ascully himself). This is a story from a graphic novel so they can fall back on the excuse that they wanted parts of it to look less realistic, but I think that would be their cover story, not the whole truth.
For all the elements of 300, the good story, the cool style, the blood and severed limbs, the extremely cool fake/real abs that the soldiers show off, it’s a great adventure and if you can get past the surface you will find an inspiration tale about standing up to tyranny…which is always good.
This is the full screen version, phffttt.. So it’s not a great value if you are a DVD fan. In fact, if you shop around, the full screen version is MORE than the special edition. If you want a fair value for the cash and put this baby on your shelf for all time. I suggest the special edition. It’s got lots of extras and the wide screen version of the movie..duh.
If you are not a DVD collector, you still should add this little gem to your queue/list or go rent it and give it a try. It’s a good time, and there’s lots of men’s stomachs. Oh joy.
Overall Score 7/10