Finally, a week late, I’m posting a review of Frank Miller’s (Sin City) and Zach Synder’s (Dawn of the Dead remake) 300.
Not that you need to be told this, but the movie is about the Battle of Thermopyae, where 300 Spartans royally beat in the dicks of about a million Persians before getting butchered.
Short version: it was awesome, but could’ve been more so. It’s the sort of movie that I love, but that I know isn’t going to get good reviews from critics. Ignore the 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, and go see it.
Long version is after the jump, because it’s filled with spoilers, and I try to be considerate.
I preferred the (comic) book. There, I said it.
The problems with 300 basically stem from changes they made to Miller’s original story.
Miller obviously took some serious liberties with the history, but he was fairly accurate. I want to point out here that I’m not saying that based on the Wikipedia article, but because I’ve actually read Herodatus. Miller doesn’t mention that Sparta had two Kings. He leaves out the Thespians entirely. He gets the prophecy bit a little wrong - it was Marathon, not Thermoplyae, where the oracle held the Spartans back due to a religious festival (The prophecy before Thermoplyae was actually that Sparta would lose one of her kings, or be destroyed.) He takes a seriously negative view of Ephialtes - real life: dirtbag, movie: deformed mutant hunchback. It’s a hitpiece the likes of which I haven’t seen since when Stephen King wrote the guy that hit him with a van into the Dark Tower as a drunken retard.
What Miller doesn’t do, and what the movie does, is portray Sparta as some kind of Western-friendly democracy. There’s a council, and the Queen makes an impassioned speech about their obligation to protect freedom, and how all men are created equal, and such.
That idea is total bullshit. Sparta was a pretty nasty little dictatorship. They owned slaves, and their idea of “freedom” was that Spartan citizens were always supposed to be at the top of theÂ slavery/vasselship food chain. I really take issue with the subplot in the movie where the Queen gets into some political intrigue crap. It was distracting, stupid, and never actually happened. It felt like an obligatory “hey we need a female story and some kind of sleazy politician for the audience to hate, so let’s do that. People love politics in a war movie, and Sparta has to really look like the good guys”. I preferred Miller’s take. It’s a story about 300 badass Spartans, and their last stand, not fucking epic mankind’s first fight for freedom holy shit. Why the hell they tried to make it that is beyond me.
I guess this probably sounds like I hated the movie, but really, those were the only gripes. The battle scenes were very well done, andÂ I actually enjoyed the fact that it looked like a video game in parts. Gerard Butler was great as Leonidas, mostly because he yelled all the time and had an awesomely pointy beard. The Persians, Xerxes especially, were suitably weird, with a fetish/chain motif across the board. The heavily-processed gritty earthtone look worked out pretty well.
All in all, an entertaining, visually stunning, and awesome movie about some hardass Greeks. Flawed, but still completely worth watching.