300 (in IMAX)
reviewed by Andrew James
There's no question that this will be the box office champ of the week. The question that will remain, is how long will it stand up. My prediction is that it will not be long. Once the internet fans and kids of all ages see this over the weekend, the word of mouth just won't be there and mainstream movie goers (i.e. families) will not back this movie up over the long haul.
The tale of 300 goes as follows... King Leonidis of Sparta recruited but 300 men to defend his country against the onslaught of the Persian army in the battle of Thermopylae. The Persians were hell bent on enslaving and conquering everything in their path in the name of their "god" and ruler Xerxes. Xerxes' army numbered in the hundreds of thousands, so this is more less an ancient version of the Alamo holdout.
The battle scenes are terrific and full of arm-of-your-chair grabbing intensity; specifically the one on one scenes. Though there is battle after battle throughout the film, each one has something unique to offer and thereby does not become tedious or repetitive at all. The film does step away a bit from reality when it comes to its characters, giving it an almost "Lord of the Rings" feel to it at times, but again, its this diversity and creativity that makes the film so enjoyable. The director employs interesting camera work and editing to each fight as well. From regular speed to slow motion to quick swivels and slow pans, almost every shot is awe inspiring, unique and fun.
The movie is brimming with gorgeous (and dead) bodies. The men look like they spend about 23 hours a day doing situps and pushups, while the women are gorgeous and stong. One scene in particular involving an "oracle" uses a particularly attractive, half naked women contorting and grinding in a whispy motion that makes it appear as though she is moving under water. Totally unnecessary, but very Frank Miller and very eye-popping (especially for the guys).
It can be argued that the best performance in the film is that of Queen Gorgo, played by the absolutly stunning and relatively unknown Lena Heady. Her strength of character and body shows what a real woman can be and her presence on screen would be sorely missed. From her first words of dilogue, we know this is a woman we can get behind. I thank the producers for not hiring some big name actress like Angelina Jolie or Monica Belucci to ruin this aspect of the film. The men are adequate as well, though they're going to be fairly unrecognizable by the majority of movie goers and mostly they're just there to show off their muscles and kill things.
Something must also be said about the soundtrack. It compliments the film well. At times of drama or emotion, there is a traditional score of strings and choirs. But with some of the more intense battle scenes, we have Les Paul created, distortion heavy, power chords along with a pounding, almost danceable drum beat. I liked the feeling of strength and intensity this type of music gives to the appropriate scenes.
If I have any gripes about the film, they are small but noticeable and detract from the overall score I can give it. For one, some of the lines throughout are just cheesy and eye rollingly stupid. Since this is a comic book adaptation I can forgive this a bit, but that doesn't mean I still don't cringe at times of dumbed down dialogue. Secondly, there's no depth or development to the story. It's nearly two hours of death, destruction and mayhem. Sure there are some scenes of politics and drama, but for the most part they are just there to allow the audience to catch its breath; not really there for any story advancement. Now some may argue that this is the point and I would agree with that. This is why I saw the film and it is what I was expecting. But it is also the reason why this film won't be remembered the same way films like Gladiator will and why it won't get Oscar nominations like Gladiator did. I probably enjoyed and had more fun at my screening of 300 than I did at Gladiator, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a better film - it's most obviously not.
Basically this is a stylized, but bloody, popcorn film that is exciting and fun but won't be remembered or highly praised by professional critics. It will be MUCH better served on the big screen than at home on DVD, so if there's any interest at all, I recommend that trip to the local multi-plex to check this out. The bigger and louder the better, so if you have access to an IMAX theater, it will give it that little extra something. Its theatrical, strong and unique. Almost everything you could want in a summer blockbuster, released three months earlier to compete with nothing and give us addicts something to drool over. Get some popcorn and don't take anything too seriously and you'll have a good time with these 300.
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
FLIXSTER PROFILE for 300