Gladiator + The Matrix = 300

This review is totally unnecessary and redundant at this point. By now, you’ve most likely already decided whether or not to see this movie. Plus, Chris has already written his review, and I agree on pretty much all points. (Obviously on the Matrix + Gladiator part.) Then you might be asking, why bother?

Because 300 is that great.

The film is not as action-packed as most people thought leading up to its release. There’s an actual story here to provide some weight to the fighting that occurs. A background that shows the basis of Spartan society and what King Leonidas was up against back home in trying to save his people. There’s no doubt that the story is a massive exaggeration and the “freedom” talk is a bit overblown, but I enjoyed the narrative enough and the payoff was pretty damn great. The sellout crowd definitely ate it up.

Nonetheless, the brutal, stylized hand-to-hand combat and the beautiful cinematography are what this movie will be remembered for, and why it will be watched on DVD millions of times across the world. The manner in which wave after wave of Persian forces are discarded is totally awesome. Limbs are strewn in every direction, spears and swords are shoved through Persian chests, bodies litter the ground, blood spurting every which way – all in slow-motion. Even when bloody action isn’t occurring, director Zach Synder uses slo-mo, leading the movie to achieve a sort of hyper-realism. Not too mention that the movie is filled to the brim with shots that look like a awe-inspiring painting.

The way the Spartans fight together as an elite, disciplined fighting force to the death is truly inspiring – using their shields in perfect harmony and formation, showing discipline rarely shown in today’s world. Sometimes though, they go all-out nuts and really display their superior Spartan fighting ability.

Case in point:

Maybe the critics are right when they talk about our generation having a short attention span and just wanting all action, but 300 really could’ve used just more scenes like that. That sentiment possibly has something to do with the cliche storyline, but it also has to do with the action scenes being so damn awesome.

Gerald Butler definitely gives one of the greatest badass performances of all-time as King Leonidas. I never thought anyone could make eating an apple so cool. Leonidas bellows most of his lines (but it makes sense since he’s yelling out to 300 of his men), he repeatedly defies the self-proclaimed God, Xerxes, he always keeps his calm, collected demeanor, even in the face of imminent death, and of course, he’s able to lay waste to dozens of soldiers on the battlefield. A battle between him and Maximus would be one for the ages.

As for some criticisms: first off, the amount of six-packs in this movie is utterly excessive. As my friend Frank said, “I don’t think they did crunches back then.” But I guess they had to throw something in there for the women. Secondly, the mutant stuff got a little out of hand – in particular the sword hands butcher guy that was shown in the trailers. Even when I saw him in the trailer, I thought he looked pretty stupid, but in the context of the movie, it was even worse. It was completely unnecessary and didn’t fit in with the movie at all – something that may surprise you. Yet, the huge Frankenstein/Resident Evil 4 mutant fit in fairly nicely because he led to a great fight sequence. Lastly, the movie did take a bit long to get into full-blown battles.

But by the end of the movie, all those complaints had washed away and I was left with what will no doubt be one of my favorite movie experiences of 2007. At least until I see it in IMAX.

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~ by CajoleJuice on March 10, 2007.

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