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300- Movie Review

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“Madness? This is Sparta!”

Title: 300

Never Retreat! Never Surrender! The motto of the Spartans and the obvious mindset of 300 director Zack Snyder and his team as they breathe life into Frank Miller’s (Sin City) graphic novel. Think of this film as Braveheart on acid. It takes the “freedom at any cost” mentality and kicks the amps up to overload. The look. The feel. The sound. The dialogue. Everything is total in your face filmmaking. A method, though not good for most movies, is brilliant with this story.

King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) is head of Sparta, a community bred of the greatest warriors. As all nations around him are surrendering to King Xerxes and the unbeatable Persian army, Leonidas takes up arms to stand instead of kneel. When political opposition and local issues keep him from being able to go to war he takes 300 able soldiers to hold off the armies of Xerxes. It is through these 300 warriors that the story of honor, brotherhood and freedom at any cost is played out. The movie never claims to be historically correct and was definitely made for big screen appeal instead of a historical documentary.

The story in itself is enough to make an empowering film. But when you add the color and over all look of this movie it elevates it to something more than just a look into the past. The cinematography gives it a ghostly, legendary, comic book feel without taking away from the grand display of larger than life battle sequences. This film looks amazing. Simple as that. You can expound on it and try to come up with a definition but nothing really describes it. 300 was shot in 60 days with 10 visual effects vendors creating 1300 cuts involving some sort of visual effect. There are only 1500 cuts in the entire movie so that tells you the focus on effect. But it worked brilliantly.

The writing is decent too which is sometimes surprising in an onslaught of effects. There are lots of witty, Hercules type exchanges among the warriors of Sparta. These are men who have been trained to be cocky and arrogant and to spit in the face of death and injustice. And it shows in their banter. You like these guys and you want them to succeed as if by their victory we all gain a little victory of our own. But guys be warned. You may think yourself a man but you will feel pretty small in comparison. Even compared to the Spartan women! Yet if it makes you rethink your values and what you are willing to stand and fight for, even die for, then that is worth something. I doubt if that was the plan of the filmmakers but it is hard to watch this and not want to stand up for what is right. For yourself and those around you.

Though some details were changed, the 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae, on which Miller based his comic book series, is said to have inspired all of Greece to stand against Persia and usher in the world’s first democracy. Snyder has without a doubt ushered in a stunning film. I would be disappointed to see this style used commonly in the future. It is the uniqueness that makes 300 what it is and in the end, it’s the story that is foundation for greatness. Madness? This is Sparta! I give it 4.5 out of 5 spear thrusts. With a look at 300, I’m Matt Mungle. 300 is Rated R for graphic battle sequences throughout, some sexuality and nudity with a running time of 117 minutes. It opens in theaters and IMAX on March 9th.

The Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)(03/09/07)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and hosts the weekly syndicated Indie Rock Radio Show Spin 180. Plus with his wife Cindy they do a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies. For additional reviews and interview clips visit the website www.mungleshow.com

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