guppy's film reviews

Monday, April 16, 2007


Year: 2007
Director: Zach Snyder
Notable Actors: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey
Score: C
Summary: A great big pile of mediocrity.

When I first saw previews for 300, it didn't really grab my attention and I was prepared to dismiss it, but then people starting telling me how much they were looking forward to it, so I gave it another look. I ended up with a free ticket courtesy of Best Buy, and it still took me over a month to get around to seeing it. Having finally done so, it appears that I should have trusted my instincts.

300 is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel (read: comic book) series about the battle of Thermopylae, and follows King Leonidas of Sparta. You may remember Miller's name from 2005's Sin City, which is likewise based on one of his graphic novel series, and comparison of the two is virtually inevitable. There are some similarities -- both films are highly stylized and extremely violent, for example. The big difference? Sin City is a much better film.

If you've seen any of the previews, and it's difficult not to have done so by now, you've almost certainly seen the "This is Sparta!" clip. If you haven't, well, there isn't much to tell. Leonidas kicks some guy and yells "This is Sparta!" with overly long pauses in between each word. If you've watched that scene, you've basically watched most of the movie, which consists almost entirely of only two elements:

  • Fight scenes, in which the superbly trained Spartan warriors kill a huge number of people
  • Yelling scenes, in which the Spartans scream and shout at their opponents about how great Sparta is
As you can imagine, this makes the movie's 117 minutes drag on far too long, as you've already seen everything the movie has to offer inside the first half hour. By the first hour I was ready for it to be over. Add in a dull script and directing that sets new records for overacting and you've got a film that just isn't very interesting to watch.

What 300 does right is the effects. A lot of money was thrown at this movie, and it shows. Visually it's an interesting affair, with dashes of surreality sprinkled liberally throughout the film. The CGI effects are also superb; it's sometimes difficult to tell where the CGI ends and the rest begins. I've been told that much of the film is actually acted in front of a green screen, which speaks to the talent of the cast (and helps place the blame for the hamminess at the director's feet). The stylized art style works well for the movie and helps convey its graphic novel roots.

You should know going in that the movie isn't even close to historically accurate; that's not a negative, but it's definitely something to remember.

300 isn't the worst film I've ever seen, but it does very little to distinguish itself. For a two-hour movie, there just isn't very much there. Save your money and see something less average.


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