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  Publicity Stills of "300"
(Courtesy from Warner Bros)

Genre: Action/Drama
Director: Zack Synder
Cast: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham and Dominic West
RunTime: 1 hr 57 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: M18
Official Website: 300themovie.com

Opening Day: 8 March 2007


Synopsis :

Based on the epic graphic novel by Frank Miller, “300” is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy, drawing a line in the sand for democracy. The film brings Miller’s (Sin City) acclaimed graphic novel to life by combining live action with virtual backgrounds that capture his distinct vision of this ancient historic tale.

Movie Review:

We Spartans have descended from Hercules himself. Taught never to retreat, never to surrender. Taught that death in the battlefield is the greatest glory he could achieve in his life. Spartans: the finest soldiers the world has ever known.

Graphic novel, story and art by Frank Miller, is only one of a tiny, tiny handful of illustrated treatments of the Thermopylae epic of 480 B.C., when the stand of King Leonidas and his bodyguard of 300 picked Spartans inspired all Greece and succeeding generations of freedom lovers.

Turning a deaf ear on the "true" historians, "300" is a film truly worthy of the word "epic," firstly because of its hugely dramatic, (kind of) true story. The legendary Battle of Thermopylae may have first made it to the screen in 1962's The 300 Spartans(which inspired Miller himself), but this new cinematic incarnation of the story is a historical epic unlike any other. It's a stylised action adventure that takes the sword and sandal genre towards an exaggerated, dream-like direction. Transferring the dynamic visuals of the original graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynne Varley to the big screen, in a similar manner to previous Miller adaptation Sin City, the result is a delirious, turbo-charged roar of a movie that plays like Spartacus on an exotic drug, perfectly capturing the book's energetic widescreen flavour.

Give them nothing! But take from them everything!

As truly epic as this tale of legendary heroism is, nothing can properly prepare audiences for the experience of the "300." "Hyper-epic" may accurately characterize the style in which this already exhilarating Frank Miller story was realized on film. From the studio logos to the end credits, every frame of "300" pulsates and flexes with music and sound effects pushed completely to the forefront to carry a dramatic impact. Every shot is poetic. Every close-up is extreme. Every man is muscle-bound and sculpted. Every woman is elegantly beautiful. Every monster is hideous and sickening. Every blow is fatal. Every moment is a moment. Not one second is wasted leaving audiences exhausted. They will understand and experience every motivation, every action, and every reaction that each character in the film makes, because they will see the world through the unflinching eyes of Frank Miller's Spartans. Credit for this is of course due to the marvelous direction of Zack Snyder, although much praise also belongs to Gerard Butler who is casted bravely from the unknown which will change soon. Butler embodies completely Miller's King Leonidas, giving the film all the sincerity and emotional support it needs to keep from collapsing into a mess of meaningless violence, painfully clichéd dialogue and pretty pictures. It is only because of Butler that viewers will not merely understand the strange culture of Sparta, but also empathize with their struggle, which is quite a Herculean feat.

This is where we fight. This is where they die.

The resemblance of "300's" actors to the characters in Frank Miller's graphic novel is just one of the remarkable similarities like Robert Rodriguez's "Sin City". Director Zack Snyder's pays enormous reference to every detail of Frank Miller's original comic. Each frame of Snyder's film is soaked in the graphic novel's unforgettable palette of red and bronze - staged to recreate precisely Miller's statuesque, melodramatic poses from the author's trademark silhouettes to use of negative space. Recreated perfectly in the film from Miller's comic double-page spread format, the pivotal combat of "300" is beyond what most audience are expecting, even in a time when clashes on screen has become routine, its intensity and visual splendor never fails to amaze.

The notion of "fight choreography" has been thrown into a new level as its not merely a dozen of men throwing hundreds of punches and kicks with hardly one landing or, when one does, causing little to no consequences, "300s defination is all about killing. The force, might and skill of the Spartans' every move is fully displayed in shot after bloody shot. Audiences will leave "300" with the memory of one particular sequence in which we see in one gorgeous slow-motion/fast-motion/back-to-slow-motion shot of King Leonidas viciously single-handedly stampeded a string of armed battle with the Persians. It is glorious.

Madness? This is Sparta!

Finding yourself being caught up in the power and passion of the tale, and in the end, be moved and impassioned by it all, the ending is particularly powerful and the whole film manages to easily convey the passion and belief of the Spartan's without making them unlikeable or too over the top. Frank Miller didn't actually set out to tell the story of ancient Sparta. Miller told beautifully the story of the Battle of Thermopylae from the point of view of the Spartans, and it is an incredible tale. Just a glance at any random page of "300" reveals immediately the inspiration Miller felt by the heroism and sacrifice of Sparta's 300. In what seemed like out of nowhere, Frank Miller created one of his classic works; that rare kind of comic book in which every panel lays its author's genuine thrill in creating it. The makers of the film have left too a similar stamp on every frame of their movie. Zack Snyder and his collaborators will be forever acclaimed for all the cool stuff they successfully brought over from the "300" graphic novel and into the movie, but that they also managed to bring into cinemas, like Sin City before, a true Frank Miller vision, and to quote the fan boy within, "It f*****g kicks ass!".

Movie Rating:

(Spartans! Enjoy your other limp withered films for now, for tonight we should dine, blood soaked, with the most aggressive tale of heroism glorification and courage you'll ever feast your eye on!)

PS: Stick around once it's over for some of the coolest blood-splattering end credits.

Review by Lokman BS


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