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(Review originally written at 26 March 2007)

This movie never promised to be the ultimate and definite historical movie about the Battle of Thermopylae. the movie instead promised to be a visual spectacle with big effects and spectacular action sequences. The movie promised to be simple entertainment and entertaining it was.

It's like how entertainment should be; simple and deliciously over-the-top. "300" is of course a movie that deliciously goes over-the-top with its images and overall style. The Frank Miller graphic novel gets translated very well to the big screen in terms of its style and atmosphere. The entire movie is greatly comic book looking, with its backgrounds, characters and action. Just like the other Frank Miller graphic novel turned movie "Sin City", the entire movie was shot in a studio, with the use of blue- and green-screen, to give the movie an authentic, unusual but beautiful and spectacular looking visual style.

Its style and characters make sure that you won't ever take this movie serious, unless you of course really believe that the Persian army used big over-sized misshapen, mutant looking creatures, Xerses really had such a deep voice and all of the battles happened in slow-motion. If you have a hard time coping with this comic book style and way of storytelling and interpretation of history, don't watch this movie and stick to historical books instead. But if you're simply interested in good quality action and entertainment, this is the perfect overblown blockbuster movie for you.

The story is simple and its basically about the Spartans standing their ground, attack-wave after attack-wave. The story trows in some more plot lines, involving King Leonidas' wife Queen Gorgo, who tries to convince the council to send more military support to save her husband, who knows he's going to meet a certain death. The diversity between those two main plot lines of attack and mostly talking and corruption work out well. Had the movie only been purely action it would had become tiresome after a while, I am sure. Also especially since the action is mostly of the same. Every attack-wave they encounter more dangerous, better skilled and often also more ugly looking enemies. Like a computer game, in which you advance one level-up, after you've beaten the enemy.

But yes, it's also a missed opportunity that they didn't stick to the true story, since it's far more interesting and in my opinion also more heroic as the story portrayed in this movie. But it's of course also more complex and because of that also possibly less entertaining. I've always been greatly interested and fascinated by the story of the battle of Thermopylae, so I've wouldn't minded some more accuracy but I can understand and appreciate the approach of this movie and its story of the famous battle. Still sort of too bad that they decided to go with a voice over that tells what happens on screen and what the emotions and atmosphere was. The images themselves should be powerful and perfect enough to tell all of this.

Everything in the movie is just basically very black & white and doesn't get complicated. Meaning that the good guys are all extremely good and they look like perfect creatures, with perfect biceps and white teeth and the villains are extremely evil and look like monsters, also complete with bad teeth.

Definitely true that the best parts were already in the trailer but the movie still has plenty of visual surprises and spectacular action in it. The idea and sight of 300 Spartans facing an over a million man large Persian army is both impressive as spectacular. The best parts are definitely the action sequences, that show the bravery of the Spartans and their fighting skills and tactics, against the poorly organized and trained Persian army.

The acting by the way was definitely better than expected. From a movie like this you just don't expect grand performances. Gerard Butler was great as the roaring and heroic King Leonidas and David Wenham and Vincent Regan play some good supporting roles. Of course the dialog isn't much special but this again perfectly suits the comic book style of film-making.

I don't think that is a movie that will ever grow into becoming a classic and therefor I feel that it's also slightly exaggerated that the movie is actually in the IMDb top250. Nevertheless it's a movie that shall always remain perfectly entertaining to watch.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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