Retro Review: 300

Brash, bold, bloody and beheading was the Spartan way of warfare. Well, according to the film “300”.

Based on the graphic novel by the infamous Frank Miller, “300” tells the story of the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC where King Leonidas of Sparta (Gerard Butler) lead a brave battalion of 300 Spartans against a Persian Army that numbered over a hundred thousand. While Leonidas was away shedding blood for his beloved country, his Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) begged the council to send their King support or they would see the mighty Sparta fall.

“300” is like no other movie experience before it. The film’s brash and bloody tone mixed with amazing visuals makes it a marvel to behold. The battle sequences are as legendary as the story itself. This is amazing film-making.

Probably one of my top ten favorite films of all time is “Spartacus” which for me has always been the standard when it comes to “sword and sandal” epics like “300”. The last film I saw that came close to my fondness for “Spartacus” and the genre it represents was Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator” from 2000. Now along comes “300” and I can see that the people involved in this film were huge fans of those two films. From the bold hero to the intense battle sequences, “300” has them all. I wouldn’t place this film next to those and say it is on par with them but I would have to say it is pretty darn close.

The amazing thing about the film itself is that it was all shot on green screen. The film was also a shot-by-shot recreation of the graphic novel. To be honest there were parts of the graphic novel that weren’t perfect and could have been left out. But you really can’t blame the film team for that if they were following the source material to the letter.

I also have to say that I have been a fan of Gerard Butler ever since I first noticed him playing the title character in the pretty awful “Dracula 2000” with Omar Epps and Jeri Ryan. I had almost forgot him all together until he was in “Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life”. He was the best part about the superior sequel besides Angelina Jolie. He then became a leading man with 2004’s “Phantom of the Opera” and the much praised indie film, “Beowulf and Grendel”. “300” is sure to make this man a star and look out because I see big things on the horizon for this guy. He is absolutely outstanding in this film.

I have also been a quiet fan of Lena Headey who like Butler has had a lot of bumps in the road leading to her poignant role in “300”. I really had to dig deep to remember the first time I noticed Headey. I couldn’t remember if it was in 1992’s “Waterland” or 1994’s “MacGyver: Trail of Doomsday”. But now that I think about it I think it was probably 1994’s live-action “The Jungle Book” where she played Kitty opposite Jason Scott Lee’s Mowgli. Then I remember her from the 1998’s magical mini-series “Merlin”. After that I kind of lost track of her until 2005’s “The Cave” and “Brothers Grimm”. Headey is one of those actresses who winds up in the strangest places but when she is there you are very thankful which is exactly what she did with her performance in “300”. I just wish somebody would give this woman a chance at the big time. That might come with Fox’s fall drama “The Sarah Conner Chronicles” where Headey takes over where Linda Hamilton left off in the Terminator movies as she has to protect her son from you guessed it, a terminator or two.

When you go see “300” remember the money you are laying down is for a movie that is more of an “amusement park” ride kind of experience than your average movie. And this time you better buckle up and keep your hands inside the car at all times!

(4.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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