Trivia The film was shot entirely on blue and green screen in 60 days in Montreal.
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14th May 07
Two hours of strapping men, so toned that they have solid man boobs, proving how manly they are by growling and shouting and fighting against inconceivable odds. These three hundred scantily clad men are the Spartans, and under guidance from gobby King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) they do their best not to be beaten by the mighty invasion from Xerxes’ (Rodrigo Santoro) army at the Battle of Thermopylae 480 B.C.
Chuck in a hunchback and women that cavort in a rather provocative manner, except for stiff upper-lipped Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), and you have the film adaptation of Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s graphic novel of the same name.
After confounding critics and fans alike with his actually 'not too bad at all' remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead in 2004, writer / director Zack Snyder is back whipping up ‘controversy’ with his latest movie, 300.
Considered racist by some (it got slapped with an official condemnation from the Iranian government - haven’t these people got more important things to get on with?), comic book adaptation 300 soared above box office predictions and the mixed critical reception pocketing a not inconsiderable $70 million plus take in the US in just its opening weekend. Not bad for a movie budgeted at $60 million!
Gerard Butler has been hanging on the verge of breaking big in movies now for sometime with the flawed but interesting Reign of Fire and the Tomb Raider sequel being of a higher profile. Butler has the physicality down to a tee cutting an impressive figure as King Leonidas, and has a habit of bearing his unfeasibly white teeth every time he shouts, which is lot. It’s just a shame he can’t shake his Scottish brogue, hopefully he will have by the time he steps into Kurt Russell’s shoes for the forthcoming Escape from New York remake.
The filmmakers have made clear that this was never meant as a historically accurate version but instead an adaptation of Frank Miller’s comic book spin on the Spartans legend. 300 is about being a visual treat, a target it hits as if under siege from Xerxes’ considerable army.
Coming across as a blend of 'over-praised bore' Gladiator and the superb Sin City, 300 also sometimes reminds you of that trippy serial killer movie that got sunk by a wooden Jennifer Lopez barely able to move her gargantuan derriere under some impressive costume design - The Cell.
The film is not geared to be a deep or meaningful look at the events in question and consequently does not muster much in response in the emotional stakes, leaving the only response available to be enthralled by what the effects guys have created to fill in around the actors, and enthralled you will be if big dumb spectacle is what you have come for. Anyone expecting anything other would do better to check out the 1962 film The 300 Spartans instead.
For those that have embraced 300’s styling they maybe interested to know that director Snyder has signed up to turn grumpy old Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen into a feature length movie. On the basis of Snyder’s career to date he may well be the first to make stropey old Mr. Moore stop moping and be genuinely impressed with his adaptation of his work. I did say maybe though.