Monday, 2 July 2012

300 (2006)

Every few months I revisit Zack Snyder's masterpiece 300.  In my opinion, this is one of the best movies ever made.  I wish more blockbusters would be like this because it doesn't hold back.  It's violent, emotional, powerful, occasional funny, visually stunning, has amazing camera work, has amazing battle sequences and is epic in every sense of the word.

Zack Snyder is a controversial director.  For a start his debut feature was a remake of Dawn of the Dead (I think the remake is better in this case).    And of course he would go on to bring beloved graphic novel Watchmen to the screen, and as we all know, comic book movies always piss off a lot of people.  Then there's Sucker Punch, which I enjoyed personally but it does have critics.  I'm definitely a Snyder fan.  I dig his style and if anyone can bring a comic book to life it's him.  300 is his masterpiece and he did the perfect job bringing the pages of Frank Miller's graphic novel to the big screen.

300 is a fictional take on the Battle of Thermopylae, in which 300 Spartan warriors went to war against over 1 million Persian soldiers led by Xerxes, a self-proclaimed god.  The battle lasts for 3 days and the Spartans are only beaten because they are betrayed by Gollum-like Ephialtes.  While they fight, the Queen remains in Sparta trying to rally support for her husband against a council whose essential figurehead is a traitor out to satisfy his own gain.

So what makes this one of my favorite movies of all time?  Well, for a start it never fails to amaze me and light a fire inside that burns with passion.  Our heroic 300 Spartans are characters to truly get behind and root for.  The speeches are inspirational, their efforts are beyond admirable and they leave you feeling emotional.  The performances are all amazing, especially Gerard Butler as King Leonidas.  To this day it's his best performance (and I like him in everything I've seen).  The anger in his eyes, the fury in his voice and the way he conducts himself really sell him as a warrior fighting for his people.  There's some great actors on board here, like Michael Fassbender and Stephen McHattie.  Vincent Regan and David Wenham stand out in particular.  In addition to engaging characters and amazing performances, the battle scenes are breathtaking - amazingly choreographed, bloody, entertaining and visually stunning.  The entire movie is visually stunning with amazing cinematography.  It looks like the pages from the graphic come to life.  The camera work is stunning, the score is beautiful and when all of these elements are combined, a piece of cinematic brilliance is captured.

300 isn't entirely historically accurate but for me that's not important.  When I watch a movie I just want to watch something that engages me. There's many things in 300 that take it into the fantasy genre anyway, so it's not trying to present itself as true to life. This does just that and much more.  Of course, it's been criticised for inaccuracy and portrayal of Persians, but really who cares?  It wasn't out to harm or offend or provide any kind of social commentary.  Some people need to relax and chill out.  It's just a film at the end of the day, based on a graphic novel.  It's definitely not for everyone, but the box office gross and DVD sales would suggest that enough people enjoy it for being a harmless bit of entertainment.

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