Movie #95: 300 (2007)

Director: Zack Snyder

Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Dominic West, and Rodrigo Santoro


In 450 BC at the Battle of Thermopylae, 300 Spartans, along with other Greek soldiers, led by King Leonidas (Butler) fight the invading Persian army led by the King Xerxes (Santoro).  Narrated by Spartan soldier Dilios (Wenham), the Greeks ward off the Persians for three days.


“You bring the crowns and heads of conquered kings to my city steps. You insult my queen. You threaten my people with slavery and death! Oh, I’ve chosen my words carefully, Persian. Perhaps you should have done the same!”

Oh my goodness where do I start with this movie?  Shot entirely in front of a green screen so the filmmakers could create the mythical mysterious darker look similar to the graphic novel the film is based on, 300 portrays a romanticized version of one of the most well-known battles in ancient history.

I can now say I’ve watched this film twice.  Once in the theater, and again now.  I really didn’t care for it when it came out, this time it was a little more tolerable.  There are a number of things I enjoyed about this film, but at the end of the day, it’s men fighting each other, saying and doing macho things.

The narrative aspects of a movie like this can go a long way in making or breaking the film.  I think Snyder does a good job of incorporating Dilios’ narration of the events leading up to and during the battle.  David Wenham has a good narrative voice, and having proven his acting abilities in this type of film with his portrayal of Faramir in the Lord of the Rings series, he was a good casting decision for this role.

King Leonidas and Xerxes in 300

This was probably one of Gerard Butler’s best performances.  I’ve seen a handful or so of his films, and 300 is probably his most successful one at the box office.  He’s unforgiving and unwavering in his loyalty to Sparta and Greece, a strong leader.  However, the grizzled voice he uses when addressing his men got really old really fast.  Rodrigo Santoro does great as Xerxes in contrast to Butler’s Leonidas, using an army of sheer numbers and quantity compared to the Spartan quality of soldiers.  The pampered contrasting the gritty realist.

The darker tone used throughout the film added to the mystique and gave the film a nice ancient feel to it.  Though I thought the film relied way too much on special effects, this is one aspect of the film that I think was done right.

300 is a film that requires very little thought and relies heavily on the beat-your-chest-to-feel-like-a-man mentality.  The way it is shot and the heavy reliance on battle scenes and war make it perfect for teenage boys, both literal and figurative.  I found it enjoyable at the end of a long few days as a way to unwind and not have to over analyze what I’m watching.  I’m still up in the air as to seeing 300: Rise of an Empire in theaters, though I’ll probably settle for a matinée.

Would I recommend 300?  If you’re a teenage boy or need to have a popcorn/requires nothing of the audience movie, absolutely.  Other than that, find something else.

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.


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