It’s not often that I come out of the cinema feeling like a giggly schoolgirl. I’m not massively sure that that was the affect that Frank Miller was aiming for when he based his graphic novel 300 on the ancient battle of Thermopylae. I think he was going for a more action packed story of the underdog fighting with honour and valour against a ruthless and bullying agitator who wants to enslave mankind and pierce his face a lot. But, in fairness to myself, there are an awful lot of torsos on show. I’m all for people being comfortable when they’re fighting off Persian hordes, but doing it in leather pants, however enticing, seems unnecessarily dangerous.
Now don’t get me wrong, I went to see this film for all the right reasons. I love a dark foreboding gore-fest full of tightly choreographed action sequences, with amputated limbs spinning off all over the shop. I like bizarre looking veiny giants being slashed to bits, and huge fat necked Persians with saws for arms. I like Spartans flying through the air twatting people in the eyes. But if you can wrap that all up in a perfectly honed, slightly sweaty package, then where’s the harm?
It has to be said though, the start of 300 takes itself a bit too seriously. There are just one too many over-blown speeches and growling husky male assertions, and the love scene just looks really uncomfortable. But there is a point in the film, I call it the ‘apple munch scene’ where everything lightens up, and even the Spartans start cracking jokes. It stops this film from just going a step too far down the dark route, and the characters becoming like caricatures. I still don’t really now why the leader of the Persians, self-professed man-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) had to be quite so camp though. He almost pops over the hill shouting ‘Woo hoo, hello you Spartan duckies’.
There are loads of plusses about this film. The green screen backgrounds really add to the darkness of the film. The soundtrack is a cracker, but most compelling is Gerard Butler in the role of King Leonidas. Not only did Butler basically grow himself a new body by downing protein shakes and doing millions of crunches, but you can almost see the strain of all that in his eyes. I couldn’t stop looking at him, he just totally owns the screen every time he’s on it, to the point that when he’s not on it I got a bit sulky. There is loads of wasted political pre-amble which could easily have been deleted in favour of more Spartan based scrapping action.
Overall I think this film is a total winner. It’s compelling and draws you in from the first fight scene. Butler really is outstanding, without uttering a word he can just totally command the screen, and as soon as I came out of the cinema, I wanted to go straight back and watch again.
|Story||The old ones are the best||8|
||More than enough
||Many and Varied
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