300 is quite the confused movie. There are times when its unoriginality is glaring, like in a scene stolen to a tee straight from the finale of Gladiator, juxtaposing the death of our hero King Leonidas with images of his young son and wife running in a dark field of grain. Then there are times when it tries so hard to be unique it’s ludicrous, such as a scene in a Persian army camp where totally inexplicable things are going on including, but not limited to, a near-orgy, a squirming limbless man, and a goat playing the flute, that leaves one scoffing a little.
When my brother first excitedly described the plot of the movie to me, I was looking forward to the Alamo meets Ancient Greece; a pretty standard movie featuring a battle against unreal odds, showboating irrational bravery and some cool fighting. In part, that’s what I got. The movie certainly did feature some ridiculous acts of bravery, with a solid basis of arrogance and pride, as well as an abundance of eye-candy battle sequences. The style in which the film is shot is anything but conventional though. Much like the last adaptation of a Frank Miller graphic novel, Sin City, the film is shot in a highly surreal manner, exaggerating the features of both people and landscapes and setting everything to a background of hazy skies and contrasting vibrant wardrobes.
The appeal of 300 lies almost entirely with the simple visual spectacle it presents. The film is light on narrative, barring a subplot with Leonidas’ wife working the corrupt Spartan Senate. The only real dramatic twist in regards to the warfront is a betrayal that can be seen from an hour away and one that could have easily been prevented in the first place had King Leonidas used any common sense at that. The simple delight of watching the mesmerizing superhuman fight scenes and the beauty of a plethora of fantastic shots and camera angles, especially one showing the broken reflection of a spear’s path as it climbs a flight of stairs or a tragic side-view of Persians being forced off a cliff reminiscent of ill-fated bison, more than make up for any lack of plot-based intrigue. This is not the thinking-man’s film but instead is a flick intended for the pleasure of a thrill seeking movie-goer, and that’s all I really wanted from the movie anyway.
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