Film Review: 300

300 Film Review


Director: Zack Snyder


Producer: Mark Canton


Cast: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West, David Wenham


Rating: 2.5/5


300 is based on Frank Millers graphic novel is based on the 480 B.C battle of Thermopylae where 300 Spartans lead by the Spartan king Leonidas managed to hold on to their own against a million Persians lead by the Persian king Xerxes. Miller who is the writer of Batman, Daredevil, Electra and Sincity, is also the executive producer for this movie.


The movie has been making news around the world even before it was released in India. It has allegedly managed to make over Rs 3 billion (Rs 300 crores) in three days in the USA and is breaking a number of records. It has also managed to provoke the Iranian (who have Persian forefathers) a few days after its release and will most likely be banned in Iran. There are also talks of gay intonation in the film.


The movie starts in an engaging narration that, along with all the talk and press about the movie, manages to raise a viewer’s expectation to one notch higher than what he/she would have walked in with. But does it rise up to the occasion or fall short of expectations?


Well, the movie is quite a spectacle. I’ve personally not read the graphic novel, but readers say that Synder has been near flawless in his adaptation of the novel. So there is ample of action – monster beats, effects of the nature, bad guys falling off the cliffs, the good guys doing stunts in slow motion…the works. Hollywood SFX at its very best, if you will.


On the acting front, Gerard Butler (of the Phantom of the Opera fame) looks formidable, dignified and every bit glorious as the Spartan king Leonidas that he plays. Dominic West as Theron the traitor on the Spartan side and Rodrigo Santoro as Xerxes do well for their parts. However, Lena Heady as Queen Gorgo is strictly okay. Of the 300 Spartans who occupy the maximum screen time Captain (Vincent Reagen) and Dilios (David Wenham, Faramir from Lord of the Rings) are memorable. However, it’s only when 300 spartan soldiers come together, with their chiseled bodies wearing only their loin cloth with capes flying in the air that you realize who the true stars of the movie are.


The entire mood and look of the movie right from the start remains dark and brooding. The skies are overcast, the eyes are staring, the limbs are tanned and the capes flying in the wind look deep and royal. All the memorable dialogues are there too – “Enjoy your breakfast, for tonight we dine in Hell!”, “Our arrows will blot out the sun and then we will fight in the shade.”


Together the two elements tend to make the film very dramatic and sadly except the action, there is no drama in the movie.

That brings us to the cons part the movie. One of my biggest woes with the movie is that it is all show and no soul. Each scene of the movie is splattered with testosterone. There are chopped heads, war cries, bones breaking and bodies flying but not solid story or narrative about why it’s happening and where it’s leading. It’s like a wild ride; you only remember the thrill of the moment, nothing beyond it. And with its choreographed sequence and no story it’s a lot like Charlie’s Angels albeit unintentionally. That is despairing because the movie has a lot of possibilities and could have been so much more.


One of the biggest things that work against the movie is the Fantasy-Action movies — Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, Alexander, Troy, Sin City, Eragon — that came before 300. All those flowing manes, arrows, horses and swords somehow give you a sense of Déjà vu. Especially those slow motion scenes with slow opera (!?) music playing in the background. Almost every scene looks and feels like you’ve already seen it somehow somewhere. And blame it mainly on two Oscar winning movies – Gladiator that somehow whetted the viewer’s appetite for such movies and Lord of the Rings trilogy that deepened the appetite so much that even an ‘effects-stuffed’ movie like 300 does not quite suffice.


It leaves one unimpressed and makes you question what the whole fuss surrounding the movie is about. Hence, as the ratings reflect the movie is just half way there.