Movies We Like
Based on legendary Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 300 is the story of King Leonidas of Sparta, who with only three hundred Greek soldiers faced off against the million man Persian army at Thermopylae in 480 B.C.
Co-writer and director, Zack Snyder (The Watchmen), should be given a lot of credit. 300 is a very exciting action film, utilizing modern technologies to retell an ancient tale from antiquity. The direction captures the spirit of the source material, while adding great elements that coexist seamlessly within the paradigm of Frank Miller’s work.
The performances by the largely male cast are solid across the board. Gerald Butler (Phantom of the Opera) is commanding as the iron-willed King of Sparta, “Leonidas.” He chews on his rally-cry dialogue with verve and carries the weight of a true ruler in his body language. His performance gives Leonidas considerable reason and intelligent nobility, while believing that he could lay waste to both man and beast in the heat of battle.
Lena Headey (Gossip) plays “Queen Gorgo” with such inner strength and conviction. Her face is a mask of reserve, holding in such longing and fear for the future of Sparta.
Dominic West (The Wire) is delightfully sleazy as “Theron”—a two-faced power hungry Senator who cries the King is a fool while growing rich as a spineless Persian spy.
Andrew Tiernan (The Pianist) is hugely sympathetic as the “Judas” of Sparta—“Ephialtes.” A hunchback outsider who by Spartan law should have been killed at birth—a lonely shunned man who betrays his people.
300 offers one of the most unique action villains with “Xerxes”—the God-King of Persia. He is gigantic, decorated in gold from head to toe, and believes the entire world is meant to be at his feet. Rodrigo Santoro (Redbelt) plays the conquering tyrant with a creepy otherworldly quality.
Larry Fong’s cinematography is fantastic, especially for a film so largely staged on a set, using post-special effects and false backdrops. Although clearly manipulated, the way Fong shoots the actors gives the surreal world some reality.
James D. Bissell’s production design is masterfully crafted. Although a lot of the visual elements were established in Frank Miller’s illustrations, they are wonderfully brought into motion. The armor design and make-up of the vast and diverse Persian Army is iconic and intimidating.
The color palette is stunningly beautiful like Old World paintings, manipulating green screen technologies to present environments and skyline that gives the coast of Greece a magical quality.
The editing by William Hoy is tight, with the momentum of a freight train. There is never a dull moment, even when the frame is filled with talking heads, rather than heads flying.
Tyler Bates’ score is powerful and beautifully haunting, giving a sense of the ancient world throughout the film. Whether in the quiet moments of emotion or the adrenaline pumping scenes of violence, Bates' music provides a steady backbone to the tale.
The fight choreography of brutal hand-to-hand combat is some of the best shot and executed in any action film. The use of dramatic angles and the constant flux in the film speed make the battles strike hard and furious.
With a surge of quality comic movies being turned out over the last few years, 300 stands as one of the finest adaptations from the medium. With the aesthetic of the graphic novel and the visceral feeling of an epic, this film is one to be watched with excitement more than once.