Comic property review: ‘300’

Photo cour­tesy of Warner Bros.

Hot, sweaty, loud: ‘300’ gets it right

‘300’

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.

Cast­ing: 8/10
Plot: 8/10
Like the comics?: 10/10
Over­all rat­ing: 8.6

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