Hot, sweaty, loud: ‘300’ gets it right
Warner Bros., 2007
You don’t have to know much about the ancient Greek Battle of Thermopylae to enjoy what Frank Miller’s 300 has to offer. You also don’t have to have a lot of testosterone or Y chromosomes to enjoy the slick visuals, fight scenes or lack of clothing that the Spartan faithful wear. This isn’t a particularly deep film but it doesn’t aim to be. It aims to be loud, cool and sweaty. And that’s exactly what you get in the comic book adaptation directed by Zack Snyder.
300 has been faithfully recreated frame by frame by Snyder, the illustrious comic book screen master who has brought forth visions such as The Spirit and Watchmen. 300 was one of his first attempts to bring a comic to life and it’s well done. Because Snyder doesn’t stray too far from the source material, everything has a grimy comic sheen draped all over it. The comic book goop the film is mired in doesn’t betray the direct lift of material; it actually enhances the beauty of the visuals. This film is undeniably gorgeous and it knows it. Even the green screen material doesn’t detract from the beauty of the film. Usually it’s obvious that folks are employing it in a scene but 300 more than covers its tracks and has a grand time doing it.
Also gorgeous are the various actors that make up the principal cast. The abs are fabulous, hair is perfectly coiffed and no one is out of shape or unable to fight. The beautiful people of the world apparently all fought in the Spartan army against the god king Xerxes and only one lived to tell the tale. That previous comic book sheen comes full circle in many of the visual elements, and the folks who kill the Persian army in stylized sequences featuring no less than six gruesome deaths are no exception. The History Channel was actually heavily involved in the costuming phase of the production and that attention to detail is evident throughout.
The actors themselves aren’t bad. While I’d not believe them as Greeks, the enthusiasm that comes across on the screen is infectious. No one phoned it in here and the dramatic portions are appropriately heartbreaking.
There isn’t much to dislike about 300. A small quibble is that the pacing makes it drags near the end. While the end battle is appropriately melodramatic and wrought with tension, it was a little too drawn out. As Elvis once recommended, a little less conversation would have been nice.
We’re action buffs and 300 definitely satisfied that need. Besides, the many quotable scenes such as “This is Sparta!” more than make up for the dragging of feet at the conclusion. 300 has earned its rank among great comic adaptations and action movies alike.
How we grade
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in the case of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of maximum of 10 per category, and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.
Like the comics?: 10/10
Overall rating: 8.6