Whether it’s the scantily clad women, the muscle laden men, or the buckets of blood that flow more readily than wine at a Greek orgy of old, the gritty visuals of Zack Snyder’s newest film 300 will leave an impression. Originally adapted from Frank Miller’s graphic novel, Snyder does an excellent job of staying true to the source. In an interview with About.com, a somewhat tongue-tied Snyder explains the process of the intricate storyboarding that was done while creating the film. As Snyder puts it, he would “work the story through” the frames from the graphic novel. The result is a spectacular film dripping with saturated colors and a unique composition.
The story follows the Spartan King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) in his testosterone infused struggle to repel the self-proclaimed God-King of Persia, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). After being forbidden to go to war by the traitorous priests attending to the Oracle, Leonidas decides to bring a paltry 300 men against Xerxes’ hundreds of thousands. At this point, however, the audience should expect nothing less from Leonidas who, when he is not severing limbs Matrix-style or parading around in the crimson cape which serves as a good 90% of his clothing, is espousing the Spartan machismo rhetoric of glory, honor, and the love of battle.
The unfortunate downside to this film is the distinct lack of any dynamic characters. All the men are blood thirsty, spear thrusting, implements of war, while the women seem to exist only in order to spread their legs for these Spartan warriors. I found myself completely lacking emotional attachment to any of the characters and was no more moved when a main character died than I was when any of the thousands of Persians met their end. The only small hope for a developed character comes in the artfully beautiful form of Leonidas’ wife, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey). In the film she portrays a faithful mother, an impassioned wife, and fierce patriot. However, these dynamics play relatively small parts in the overall story and should not be relied upon by those hoping for a character rich plot. This movie is, blood, death, and men shouting, period. That being said, it’s a lot of fun to watch.
The one thing that should certainly be avoided is coming to this film expecting a history lesson. Almost nothing about the Spartan’s represented in the film could be touted as historically accurate; however, provided you are willing to put the history book down for a couple of hours you should be able to enjoy a rather exciting film.