Monday, 21 September 2020
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Monday, 12 March 2007 00:00
The blood-drenched battle epic 300 might just be the most testosterone-drenched piece of eye candy ever to appear on the big screen. Men will love watching it, women will love watching the men and, despite the well-earned R rating, I saw nothing that made me turn my head. True, there are decapitations, freaks and a few strategically placed breasts, but it would take more than that to tear my eyes from Gerard Butler’s scarred and battle worn physique as the Spartan ruler King Leonidas.

300 is based on the true story of the legendary king leading only three-hundred men into battle against hundreds of thousands of Persians led by Xerxes in 480 BC. The trick was to lure them into a narrow pass where numbers would be of no advantage. Many rough and raw battles ensue that make the combat in Gladiator look like a slumber party pillow fight. The fights are beautifully choreographed and are without a doubt the showcase of the film. Battles are often shot at a wide angle and a slower speed, allowing you to take it all in rather than focusing on jerky camera and quick close-ups that seem to be the trend in films today. Oftentimes during heavy and lengthy battle scenes I’ll find my mind wandering but that wasn’t the case here.

Sparsely woven into the mix is a story that no one really cares much about involving a power struggle between Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) and the corrupt Theron (Dominic West) who tries to seaze power while the king is gone. Meanwhile Leonidas has his own power struggle to deal with between himself and Xerxes, a tall and pretty creature so draped and pierced with jewels it looks like he went crazy on himself with a Bedazzler.

Now comes the part where we talk about the so-called “homo-erotic” undercurrent of the film. So what if the Spartans wear little more than short, black, vinyl underwear? Doesn’t mean a thing. What if the men affectionate commeraderie? Nothing unusual. And so what if Xerxes wants nothing more than for Leonidas to “kneel before him”? No double entendre there. All sarcasm aside, beneath all the leather and lacings is simply a battle epic looking for an audience and I doubt all the silly speculation is going to hinder its success.

Cinema seems to be lapping up the comic book work of Frank Miller by creating films that are not only a tribute, but a shrine to his artwork. Sin City may have left me feeling queezy but I had to give it credit for incredible visual appeal. 300 is perhaps even more stunningly crafted, using computer generated backdrops torn right from the pages of Miller’s graphic novel. Also torn from the pages is the dialogue, which can be a bit jarring at times. Sometimes I actually laughed out loud when a line would sound particularly absurd. I foresee quoting this movie for a long time to come.

300 might not really be a historical epic, but more like a big, brash cutting-edge music video. No matter what way you look at it, it is a lot of fun to watch. I give 300 7 out of 10 stars.