‘300 is the fictionalised retelling of the 300 Spartans against the almost unlimited army of the Persian Empire led by Xerxes and based on the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name. I have not read the graphic novel so I cannot tell you how it compares but from what I’ve seen of the novel (skimming through) it is pretty much a cut and paste from book to screen. Although I missed this guy when skimming through…
It would be unfair to say I hate this film as a whole. It is a bad film but it kind of feels like it’s trying up to a point but otherwise it is just dull hack and slash clichés and cheese cranked to eleven. It has all the clichés of war films, this shocking idea that “Freedom isn’t free” and this clean-cut, chiseled army of white men are faced against a generically asian/black army made of monsters and masked, faceless men. This long running thing of dominant ideology fighting it’s freedom against whats different and the classic group of few standing up against many. Obviously some political undertones here, I mean you can’t have a war film without the idea of politics however, and this is what I really love about Zack Snyder (the director), when asked about any political message within the film he either denied intentional political messages or just claims that it’s an adaptation of a graphic novel and how the battle would be told by a Spartan. This, ‘theres no politics, it’s an adaptation’ is exactly whats wrong with Snyder as a film maker. It’s the same issue with Watchmen. He likes the pretty pictures and wants to adapt it into a film but doesn’t really understand what it is that he is adapting, or at least has no original thoughts towards the text.
Having said this some of the visuals are undeniably good. The spear along the stairs, the ships crashing etc, but that’s all it is. Style over substance. This is obviously annoying. Especially when there is room for development within the characters but instead the characters are as two-dimensional as the drawings they are inspired by.
There are two women in this film with dialogue and both are seen naked in the first 15 minutes and one is, as King Leonidas describes her, “a drunk adolescent young girl”. However this girl is their Oracle. Who answers to these Jedi monks with boils that it is against the law to disagree with. The other woman is the Queen, played very well by Lena Headey, very well considering what she’s given that is. Just to nail in the macho figure of the Spartan warriors it is imperative that we see the King and Queen have sex before he goes off to war. You know, just incase we had any doubts about a King who parades around with 300 men in their underwear. Especially when he comes across the main villain that’s sexual orientation is clearly ambiguous. Because we’ve never seen our clearly heterosexual alpha male be questioned by the enemy who might be gay. Ridiculous. Like I said, just clichés and cheese. Nothing new.
This reminds me. Great costumes by Michael Wilkinson, once again. Thumbs up. (Sarcasm). In one laughable scene a spartan removes his clearly plastic helmet off in what should be a heart wrenching scene, but not just the costume but the way the scene is handled is just ridiculous. The over use of slow mo is just tedious. I don’t care for what I’m seeing in standard motion, why drag this out and torture me this way.
Back to the goat man playing the sitar. There is a ridiculous scene in which a hunchback is denied the right to fight with the Spartans and ends up going to Persia to give information to the bad guys. There is a lot wrong with this sub plot and other sub plots too for that matter. But this is the one where. Even if the hunchback can’t raise his shield, let him fight anyway. He’ll probably die and give the Spartans a little more time. Leonidas gains nothing by letting him fight and to be honest, from what we’ve seen there is nothing the hunchback could tell the Persians that they couldn’t figure out for themselves. Instead it just adds a stupid little sub plot to end the film with glorified martyrdom. Another sub plot is what is happening back in Sparta whilst the fighting is going on. With the Queen and the ‘political’ issues she faces. I say ‘political’ because like I said earlier, this is Snyder’s politics for children hence why, if you kill a traitor in front of the council make sure to stab him in the purse because he will be carrying the currency Persia paid him. Despite the fact he would not be able to spend the money in Sparta when it has Xerxes face on it. But just to really hammer it home we need to see that money. Like I said, Snyder likes pretty pictures.
Theres not a lot to say about the acting, most of it is forced macho man, over the top, cringeworthy child’s play but then there’s Michael Fassbender. It is really weird to see him in this but he is absolutely hamming up his performance. Did someone tell him it was a comedy? He is putting his all into it, as weird as it is to see him in this. The only really Spartan looking one is Gerard Butler, he’s the only one who has a convincing war shout, all the rest, like I said feel forced, especially the actor playing the Captain, he is superbly miscast as is David Wenham who offers this frankly bizarre narration of the film.
I know this film doesnt strive for historical accuracy but one of the stranger issues I had with this film is the representation of the Spartans. The opening explanation of how hard-core these warriors are and how they feel no pain and when we actually see them fight they are just pathetic soldiers in many ways. With forced banter and no real variety in combat. It’s not sword fighting, it’s just Spartans hacking up various enemies for an hour, which gets real tiring real quick.’
It’s the Pearl Harbour of Sword and Sandal films. Dull. Cliché ridden and cheesy. Plus cgi abs. Lena Headey is really too good for this.
“Our arrows will block out the sun”
“Then we will fight in the shade”