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Special Edition DVD (front)

An fantasy-action film directed by Zack Snyder and based on Frank Miller's graphic novel.

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True to its Comic Book Beginnings

  • Mar 4, 2008
Visually impressive, this film captures the comic book elements of its source brilliantly. But as a tale of the Spartan stand against the Persians it is woefully unhistoric and overwrought. The Spartans are nearly all ferocious superheroes, not men at all in the ordinary sense, and they are all lovers of "freedom." They are "drawn" (perhaps visually enhanced is a better way of putting it) with muscles on top of muscles and they are courageous and dauntless to a man. Against them are ranged the inhuman monsters of the evil Persian king Xerxes, a man who stands twice the height of an ordinary man, is shaved from head to toe, prances about nearly naked, is covered with facial and body rings in the most decadent fashion imaginable and speaks with a deep, echoing resonance suggesting he is the devil himself.

He appears on a giant throne, drawn by slaves who are, themselves, little more than inhuman monsters, and approaches the front line to parley with good King Leonidas, the noble Spartan. Never mind that there would have been little likelihood the Persian King of Kings would have driven to the battle's front lines on a giant mobile throne, or any other contraption, to face the Spartan king and thereby risk being killed by a Spartan surprise. Xerxes was, famously, the less than successful son of his predecessor, Darius, and typically traveled surrounded by his army. There is certainly no record that he was the sort to get out in front and, centuries later, when Alexander crushed the Persians, their king stayed well back from the front and only fled when Alexander broke through. The whole picture here of Xerxes is fantasy.

No less unrealistic than Xerxes himself, his army, seems to have been imported from another planet. At one point a soldier atop a charging rhinoceros (what human has ever been able to harness and ride a rhino?) comes plowing into the Spartan phalanxe but not to worry, for the huge beast is downed by a single well thrown Spartan spear. Ah, those Spartans!

Xerxes' Immortals (his personal guard) and his other minions are portrayed throughout as distorted, corrupted beings, disfigured creatures we can easily imagine slaughtering in battle without pity since they aren't really human like our heroic Spartans, who live and die and eat and breathe and laugh and grieve -- just like us (or as we imagine ourselves doing). Indeed, we are given little of the Spartans' own cruel culture here or, in their constant talk of "freedom," any revelation concerning the Helots -- Greek slaves who lived under their cruel thumb, did their bidding and were routinely sacrificed on the altar of Spartan brutality (a highly practiced strategy intended to strike fear into the Helots and make them permanently submissive to their Spartan masters).

This film is all "glory" and bloody battle, killing and getting killed. And, while the Spartans are noble and heroic, the villains are utterly bad, including the Spartan elders or ephors, portrayed here as vile, barely human monsters living apart from other Spartans in a mystical sanctuary atop a mountain where they sexually enslave beautiful young Spartan females! Or King Leonidas' rival who rapes the good king's wife while Leonidas is off at war saving Greece from the monstrous Persians. No mention here, either, of the Spartan practice of dual kingship. Leonidas, of course, is only one of two Spartan kings but you don't get any sense of that from this film, either.

I suppose "300" accurately portrays the comic book or "graphic novel" it was based on (at least it seems to do this visually) and that is an accomplishment of sorts. But I'd rather have seen Pressfield's Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae, itself a somewhat unseemly glorification of the Spartans, in film form than this cartoon-like rendering of these famous events. And for a more realistic view of the Spartans, themselves, one would be even better off going to Nicholas Nicastro's The Isle of Stone: A Novel of Ancient Sparta, about the Spartan defeat by the Athenians in the famous battle of Sphacteria in the Pelopennesian War which followed the Greek defeat of Xerxes at Plataea, after the Hot Gates. (The Spartans actually ended up winning the Pelopennesian War, of course, and imposed a brief tyranny on the Athenians who ultimately managed to break free and, in alliance with other Greek City states, finally defeated the Spartans and broke their grip on the land mass of Greece. Sparta's great weakness was its elitism which kept the conquered Helots down as slaves rather than absorbing them into the nation and growing stronger from the addition of other peoples.)

Xerxes, himself, by the way, was only a man and not an especially terrifying one at that, if the historical record is to be believed. He certainly wasn't the dread, devil incarnate this film hands us. For another view of the mighty Xerxes, you can read L. Sprague de Camp's The Dragon of the Ishtar Gate, a really enjoyable adventure tale set in Xerxes' time which is probably truer to its era and characters -- though it is somewhat tongue-in-cheek (but more fun, for that).

Now that would make a hell of a movie.

author of The King of Vinland's Saga

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More 300 (2007 film) reviews
review by . November 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    It isn't historically accurate or relevant, and it's decidedly silly; but there's just something about Zack Snyder's big-screen adaptation of the Frank Miller comic book "300" that appeals to me right off the bat. It's the kind of movie that bothers just as many as it entertains; a critically divisive action movie that just barely passes as art in its genre. Quite a few readers will probably find it laughably shallow, but there's a charm to Snyder's style; …
Quick Tip by . November 26, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Ive been contemplating weather to make this a review of a quick tip, looking at the type of Movie 300 is I think a Quick tip would be better. Now onto the micro review.      As we all know 300 is a stylistic retelling of the the famous Spartan battle of  Thermopylae were 300 Spartans held back  half a Million Persian troops.      Like I said the day I finished watching the DVD, "I don't care if its historically inaccurate, 300 is one …
review by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
300 Spartans Delivers the Goods
Based on the comic book by Frank Miller, the movie 300 is an epic Tale of 300 Spartans and numerous other Greeks battle against Xerxes and his mega army of Persia. The battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, shows the strength, honor and sheer fighting power that once was the Spartan men. The story being told Through the ages and in many different ways is truly made historic by Frank Miller's story telling.      While not a fan of comic books, or movies that look like comic books …
review by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
 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 …
review by . July 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
1 of the BEST!!
What Pompted You to write a Review?  This is one of the best movies I have seen in my life.  Not only are the graphics excelent but the whole story line was good.  I like how it has some real life events of how the Spartans were.        How was the Plot, Acting, Direction?  The plot made sense and I don't think it could have been better and that is probaly due to the excelent acting and directing.        Were You ENTERTAINED?  …
review by . December 17, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Madness?... THIS IS SPARTA!!
The 300 Spartans is based on the battle of Thermopylae between the Persian empire and Greece. Mainly Athens and 300 Spartan Hoplites against the entire Persian empire. The Persians were lead by Xerxes the Great who Persians believed to be a man god. The Greek City States were lead by King Leonidas of Sparta. Although a mere man, King Leonidas was a warrior in every sense of the word! Xerxes the Great was continuing a war with Greece that had been initiated by his father, Darius the Great.    …
review by . August 28, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
This is perhaps the film that really made Zack Snyder well known.  It's what put him in the minds of many movie goers.  And it put him in my mind too, but not for the exact same reasons.  When I saw 300 for the first time, my first thought was that it was a very stylistic looking film that was filled with a lot of cool, flashy special effects, beautiful choreographed battle sequences.  In short, it was a film that looked good.  But being someone who also enjoys getting some …
Quick Tip by . July 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Cinematography was great but not too big of a fan of the plot
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This...is...BORING! I just never got into 300 as much as my friends, though I appreciate the effort they gave it.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Bloody good time in this war thriller with lots and lots of half naked men killing each other!
About the reviewer
Stuart W. Mirsky ()
Ranked #230
I'm a retired bureaucrat (having served, most recently, as an Assistant Commissioner in amunicipal agency in a major Northeastern American city). In 2002 I took an early retirement to pursue a lifelong … more
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About this movie


Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, 300 takes over the screen like an invading horde. With all the gushing blood of a horror movie and the scope of a classic epic, the second film from Zack Snyder (who helmed the 2004 remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD) is an impressive visual spectacle. Gerard Butler (THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) plays Leonidas, the king of ancient Sparta. The city is famous for its warrior philosophy, and Leonidas won't kneel to the demands of Persia's King Xerxes (LOST's Rodrigo Santoro). Instead, Leonidas leads his 300-strong army against Xerxes's army of millions. Meanwhile, his wife (Lena Headey, THE BROTHERS GRIMM) campaigns in Sparta for the city to send reinforcements as she butts heads with the treacherous Theron (Dominic West, THE WIRE).

300 is a 2007 American action film adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller, a fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. The film was directed by Zack Snyder, while Miller served as executive producer and consultant. It was filmed mostly with a super-imposition chroma key technique, to help replicate the imagery of the original comic book.

King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) leads 300 Spartans into battle against Persian "God-King" Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his army of more than one million soldiers. As the battle rages, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) attempts to rally support in Sparta for her husband. The story is framed by a voice-over ...
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Cast: Rodrigo Santoro, Dominic West, Tom Rack, Stephen McHattie, Gerard Butler, Peter Mensah, David Wenham, John Dunn-Hill, Vincent Regan, Lena Headey, Michael Fassbender, Tom Wisdom, Andrew Pleavin, Andrew Tiernan, Giovani Antonio Cimmino, Greg Kramer, Alex Ivanovici, Kelly Craig, Eli Snyder, Tyler Neitzel, Tim Connolly, Marie-Julie Rivest, Sébastian St Germain, Arthur Holden, Michael Sinelnikoff, Dennis St. John, Neil Napier, Dylan Scott Smith, Maurizio Terrazzano, Robert Paradis, Kwasi Songui, Alexandra Beaton, Frédéric Smith, Loucas Minchillo, Nicholas Minchillo, David J. Francis, James Bradford, Andrew Shaver, Robin Wilcock, Kent McQuaid, Marcel Jeannin, Jere Gillis, Jeremy Thibodeau, Tyrone Benskin, Robert Maillet, Patrick Sabongui, Leon Laderach, David Lapommeray, Vervi Mauricio, Charles Papasoff, Isabelle Champeau, Veronique-Natale Szalankiewicz, Maeva Nadon, David Thibodeau, David Schaap, Jean-Michel Pare, Stuart Myiow, Andréanne Ross, Sara Giacalone, Ariadne Bourbonniere, Isabelle Fournel, Sandrine Mérette-Attiow, Elisabeth Etienne, Danielle Hubbard, Ruan Vibegaard, Geneviéve Guilbault, Bonnie Mak, Amélie Sorel, Caroline Aspirot, Gina Gagnon, Tania Trudell, Stephanie Aubry, Mercedes Leggett, Stéphania Gambarova, Chanelle Lamothe, Sabrina-Jasmine Guilbault, Manny Cortez Tuazon, Cindy, Atif Siddiqi, Camille Rizkallah, Trudi Hanley, Neon Cobran, Gary A. Hecker
Director: Zack Snyder
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, War
Release Date: March 9, 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Michael Gordon, Zack Snyder
DVD Release Date: July 31, 2007
Runtime: 116 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Legendary Pictures
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