300 (15)



Action (2006)
116mins US

Starring: Gerard Butler, Rodrigo Santoro, Lena Headey, Dominic West
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer(s): Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Michael B Gordon
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Based on Frank Miller's celebrated graphic novel, 300 recounts the epic Battle of Thermopylae, at which King Leonidas and his 300-strong Spartan army fought against the vastly superior Persian army, led by Xerxes. The people of Greece are inspired by Leonidas's heroic efforts against seemingly insurmountable odds, inciting an uprising against the Persians in this visually striking feature which melds live action and computer generated backgrounds.

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LondonNet Film Review
300

"Freedom isn't free at all. It comes at the highest of costs - the cost of blood."...

300. Copyright:  Warner Bros. Pictures 2007.Based on Frank Miller's celebrated graphic novel, 300 recounts the epic Battle of Thermopylae, at which the 300-strong Spartan army fought to the bloody death against the might of the vastly superior Persians.

Writer-director Zack Snyder adapts the story for the big screen as a bruising war epic awash with muscular men, whose rippling torsos and impressive six packs are enough to make even the most body conscious fella feel inadequate. Outside of the adult entertainment industry, rarely has so much swaggering beefcake been crammed onto one the screen.

Snyder remains faithful to the Miller's striking vision, shooting almost the entire film on specially created sets augmented with computer special effects. It's a breathtaking, ravishing feast for the sense in the same way that Sin City, also based on a Miller graphic novel, was a tour-de-force of production design.

Colours are saturated and the contrast between light and dark intensified to bring an almost photographic quality to the bloodshed and there is carnage aplenty as the Spartans and Persians clash in a series of increasingly brutal skirmishes.

In some of the film's most arresting sequences, the Spartans face creatures of all shapes and sizes including battle clad elephants and rhinos, and sword-wielding fiends on horseback. The hero of the story is King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), who defies the advice of the Oracle and the Spartan Council to leads his 300 men against the might of the Persians, led by the despotic Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro).

Dominic West portrays Theron, a Spartan politician with a hidden agenda in Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures and Virtual Studios action drama 300, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture. Copyright:  Warner Bros. Pictures 2007.As hordes of heavily armed soldiers attempt to break the Spartan might, Leonidas and his brothers - including his loyal Captain (Vincent Regan), Dilios (David Wenham) and the youthful and exuberant Astinos (Tom Wisdom) and Stelios (Michael Fassbender) - hold firm, withering the bombardment. Meanwhile, back in Sparta, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) tries to thwart the political scheming of Theron (Dominic West) and the Council.

300 quite clearly has ambitions to be this year's Gladiator, with romantic scenes between Leonidas and Gorgo that could have been borrowed in their entirety from Ridley Scott's Oscar-winning epic.

Unfortunately, Snyder's screenplay doesn't flesh out the relationship in sufficient detail, relying on a softly lit love scene to establish the characters' undying love: "Your lips can finish what your fingers have started," gasps Gorgo saucily.

The body count is phenomenally high; in stark contrast, characterisation is perfunctory, even the relationship between Captain and his son Astinos. Obvious homoerotic undertones are kept to a minimum: this is a macho, Hollywood blockbuster after all.

Butler looks the part - amusingly, some of his co-stars noticeably suck in their stomachs - barking every word, like his warning to Xerxes: "The world will know that free men stood against a tyrant, the few stood against many, and even a god can bleed!" 300: The IMAX Experience will be released on selected screens around the country, which support the state-of-the-art large screen format.

- Jo Planter


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