I just returned from the opening show of Frank Miller’s 300 at midnight and I thought I’d write a few things about it while it’s still fresh in my mind. Of course, I’ll indicate that there will be spoilers in this post, although if you know the history behind the movie, you’ll know most of the major themes anyways.
First off, I’ll just say that it’s a great movie. It really stirs up that bit of patriotism within you and among other things, it really made me want to go install and play Rome: Total War. For viewers who know nothing of Spartan/Greek history (which would be most of the audience), the movie explains the main background information. Spartans are born, fed and breathe battle. The movie does an apt job explaining why only 300 men were sent to the battle. Thankfully, the introduction isn’t painfully extended. When I first saw that the movie was a mere 117 minutes (short by most historical epics), I thought, hrm, they’re probably going to jump quickly through the battles right to the end. Instead, most of the time was focused on the battle and not fluff happening back in Sparta. There was just enough background and no more as it should be.
In the battle itself, there’s ample use of slo-mo for added coolness and plenty of blood. Even if you cared nothing about the storyline or plot, the battle scenes themselves would be decent enough reason to go see the movie. The hoplite formation and battle tactics of the Spartans was mesmerizing. Seeing arrows blot out the sun… well that was something. The cinematography was simply superb. Not every war movie makes you feel like you’re a part of the battle formation.
Something that slightly irked me was the portrayal of almost all of the antagonists/enemies in the movie. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think so many people looked like they were struck by the plague and still living. I’m talking about the priests or whatever at the Oracle and all of the Persian Immortals, and that’s not mentioning the horrible disfiguration of Ephialtes. As well, there were some beastly looking beings throughout the Persian army. They just don’t make them like that anymore… Combining the disfigured Ephialtes and some of the other more ‘exotic’ Persian soldiers, it looked a little too much like Lord of the Rings at certain points.
While the Spartans were able to hold back the Persian army’s frontal assaults seemingly with nonchalance, the battle ended awfully quickly after they were surrounded. I would’ve thought they’d put up more of a fight even when surrounded, as opposed to getting pulverized by the Immortals they previously mauled.
The final word? If you’re into the ancient history war films, you’ll love 300. I sure did.