Miller's Spartans come, see and conquer the big screen in 300

****½ out of *****

Allow me to be frank with you. I knew full well going into “300” that I was going to love the hell out of it. Yeah, I know … as a film critic, I’m expected to watch movies devoid of pre-conceived notions and bias, right? But this is “300,” a movie I’ve been waiting anxiously to see for over six months now, and there’s not a man nor woman alive who could walk into this film lacking any predispositions of its superiority over absolutely everything.

“300” is a superbly faithful adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name. For the comic illiterates out there, Miller is kind of a big deal. He is regarded by many as the sole-savior of comics, a man who reinvented characters like Batman and Daredevil at a time when superheroes were struggling to find an audience. He’s the author of “Batman: Year One” and “The Dark Knight Returns,” (two of the greatest graphic novels in existence) as well as the delightfully violent “Sin City” series. My personal favorite of Miller’s work is his distinctive retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, which now comes to vivid life courtesy of Zack Snyder.

It’s 480 BC, and the mad Persian God-King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) marches across Greece with his millions-strong army. In his path lies the proud city-state of Sparta, ruled over by the fervent King Leonidas (Gerard Butler). Xerxes sends a Persian messenger with an offer for Leonidas: bow down before the might of the Persian empire, or Sparta burns. Leonidas, not being one to surrender, refuses by promptly kicking the messenger into a bottomless pit. The Spartans prepare for war. Gathering 300 buffed, bronzed and battle-ready Greeks, Leonidas makes his idealistic stand at the Hot Gates – a narrow, bottle-necking pass – successfully fending off the massive Persian army for several days with his deadly fighting force of hardened warriors.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that “300” is the most faithful direct comic adaptation. Ever. And I mean that sincerely. Aside from a sub-plot involving Spartan Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), which adds a bit of depth to the action-heavy vehicle and pays-off nicely in the end (you’ll see), the movie is almost shot-for-shot, frame-for-frame, line-for-line spot-on with the comic. As a huge fan of Miller’s work, this was just fantastic to see.

“300” is a movie that simply exudes pure awesome throughout its entirety. Its heavily-stylized visuals are reminiscent of Miller’s previous film adaptation, “Sin City.” But whereas “Sin City” was shot in stark black-and-white with the occasional splash of color, “300” is vibrantly beautiful, cast in vivid gold, deep-blue and crimson.

Moreover, it’s a fantastically shot piece of cinema. Battle sequences in film of late have been too hectic and confusing, suffering from a syndrome known as “shaky-cam.” This technique does capture the chaotic essence of war pretty successfully, but it also results in confusion, frustration and, in some serious cases, motion sickness. Thankfully, the shots are wide and steady during the bloody battle scenes in “300,” providing the perfect vantage to witness the outstanding fight choreography and the collective dismemberment of the Persian army.

And that’s where the main appeal of this great film lies: the action. The combat in “300” is brutal, bloody and, for lack of a better phrase, totally badass. Spartans wade into the sea of enemies, their spears skewering Persian after Persian, their swords removing legs, arms and heads by the dozens. They fight with the deftness of lifetimes spent training for violence, and I fully believed that these 300 half-naked dudes really could halt the Persian offensive in its tracks.

So, did “300” meet my expectations? Did it deliver a superb action film, ripe with the gratuitous violence and stylized visuals I crave? Did Gerard Butler scream a sufficient number of times? Yes, ladies and gentleman – “300” met my expectations and then some. It’s the most absurdly awesome film this year, and a must-see for anyone currently breathing.


  1. So, there's only one guy reading this?

    Also, why is there a half-star missing? Did you exchange it for a carbon off-set? ;)

  2. Gerard Butler: Phantom of the Opera? Bad. 300? I'm gonna assume it's good. Haven't seen it yet. *shames self*

  3. Four and a half out of five? Four and a HALF out of FIVE?!?!

  4. 300 PWNs noobs. It made me happy inside. :)


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