"Makes male nudity more enjoyable than it should be!"
With a council refusing to back war, Spartan king Leonidas is faced with an invasion from the Persian army numbering in the multiple thousands. His queen poses the question ďwhat would a free man do?Ē The next scene answers it for us: have hyper-stylized sex Ė then head out to rally the troops. Welcome to the world of Frank Millerís 300. It's everything I hoped for.This is a place where sex and battle are equally beautiful and equally pleasurable. Iím surprised the US army hasnít latched onto using it as a marketing tool. All the Spartan men, less pretty versions of Brad Pitt, are nobly willing to die for their comrades; all the women are ready for the front cover of Maxim; all the bad guys are disfigured monsters. Iíve never enjoyed one dimensional characters so much. 300 proves that simplicity can be amazing. Itís the equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwhich from a 5 star restaurant.
The film is based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller which was inspired by the 1962 film The 300 Spartans which was inspired by the battle of Thermopylae. Any historical accuracy was lost somewhere in translation. To be fair, itís no less accurate than Brave Heart Ė Iím pretty sure William Wallace never fooled around with the queen of France. Thankfully 300 embraces itís over-the-top good and bad portrayals that accompany the equally over the top dialogue. While itís maybe not quite the right social climate for a movie expounding the glories of war, thereís never a bad time for an epic ass-kicking movie. This is the movie Troy wished it would have been.
Instead of following Spartan law, Leonidas leads 300 of his most battle hardened and loyal soldiers to face the Persian onslaught. There are decapitations, skewerings and a whole lot of toppling over cliffs. I canít even describe how badass this movie is. Itís everything the trailers made you expect and more. Is it original? Hardly. Sometimes style can really make up for shortcomings in other areas.
For this we can thank director Zack Snyder. With the Dawn of the Dead remake he managed to inject a bit of personality into what could have been a mundane Hollywood remake. Here heís taken a made to be filmed graphic novel and put it on screen more convincingly than Sin City. Part of it is just the story. 300 is one cohesive narrative as opposed to Sin Cityís multiple unconnected plots. But even more than that, the dialogue felt less outrageous Ė or at least more fitting Ė in the universe of 300. The biggest difference was simply the style. Instead of looking like a comic book come to life, 300 felt like visiting the Sparta a teenager would imagine. It was dirty, itís nerdy and I loved every minute of it.While this isnít the first film to be shot almost entirely on blue and green screens Ė Sin City and the uber lame Skycaptain and the World of Tomorrow also belong to this club Ė 300 is the first where I didnít even notice. Everything looked right. Still, it felt a bit cold in parts Ė distant. The battle scenes were awesome but felt like glamorized fantasies instead of the brutal carnage Braveheart displayed. It was like looking at an airbrushed model instead of a real woman. While that may not be a bad thing, I wouldnít call it a very reassuring depiction of war. For some reason, something inside me wanted it to be a little lessÖ cool?