Long before Zack Snyder was ever known for the terrible Batman V Superman, or the respected Justice League Snyder cut, he was actually known for 300. 300 was a film that went on to define Zack Snyder’s career as the prime director to go to whenever you want a faithful recreation of a comic book. He later confirmed that by creating Watchmen, which was even better than 300. Well still, 300 is a career-defining moment for Zack Snyder, and we need to understand why that film was so influential. 300 is a war epic, drowning in mythology and actual history as well as a bit of fantastic comic book elements to it. So, let’s talk more about 300!
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The Movie Review
300 follows the story of King Leonidas, who was the king of Sparta and commanded the entire army of his land. However, once a Persian messenger brings a message towards Leonidas and demands that the Spartans put down their Spears and bend the knee to King Xerxes of Persia, Leonidas decides to go to war. From there on, the film showcases the ancient legendary battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartan soldiers and their king fought off an army of thousands of Persians. The one thing 300 does really well is that it also highlights the nuances of Spartan diplomacy and how the systems work at the time in Greece.
Was Zack Snyder may not be the best at making Batman a wonderful character, he’s actually decent when it comes to pure action. This is where 300 trials, pure untouchable action. It revolves entirely around the fight sequences that the film consists of, add invest every single build-up towards those battles. It showcases the Spartans might be in war with such grace, that you can actually think it isn’t really a comic book film and more of an actual historic film. So it is still based on Alan Moore’s 300 comic, which means that it’s going to feature a bunch of fantastical comic book elements which will push the film towards the fantasy genre. And boy oh boy, is there a ton of fantasy in this film.
From the disgusting pervy sears, two angelic oracles, magnificent beasts and rejects that consistently go against their rulers. This is what 300 does best, combining a mix of fantastical elements with true history. I’m pretty sure, that the Spartan soldiers in true history did not kill that many Persians, however in 300 they killed thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Persians.
This is what makes their sacrifice at the very end all the more unique, as they didn’t do it without reason but for a proper cause which they succeeded at.
The performances in this film are actual standouts, with Gerard Butler’s amazing portrayal of Leonidas, being an iconic character and performance which gave him huge success within Hollywood. Lena Headey’s character as King Leonidas’s wife and the Queen of Spartans is also a wonderful addition to the film.
She’s always been a talented actress, and this film just showcases how much. Though I must say, Rodrigo Santoro’s standout performance as King Xerxes and Andrew Tiernan’s performance as Ephialtes is the real show-stealers here. Their characters are by far the most antagonistic within the film, yet their performances are what make us actually love them.
The film is drowning in style and is the starting point of Zack Snyder’s notorious use of slow-motion in his films. There are so many slow-motion scenes that the film just seems filled with them from start to finish. Every other shot is done in slow motion, and it is actually kind of off-putting, to say the least. If the entirety of the film wasn’t in slow motion, I would have personally enjoyed it a bit more. However, after the first 20 slow-motion shots, it just turned into a tedious endeavor to get through the movie.
The build-up towards the climax is great though, and the slow-motion actually works very well during that sequence.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, 300 is a film that puts style over substance but actually manages to retain its quality when doing so. The film’s cinematography stands out in such a good way, that it is almost mesmerizing how philosophically beautiful each shot is.
The performances are by far these actors’ best works, especially Gerard Butler’s who has since gone on to only work in bad films to pay the bills. The one particular aspect of this film that I dislike is the editing, with an overly amount of slow-motion shots, dragged-out dialogue sequences that don’t mean much of an arc within the film that I personally despise. Aside from that, it’s a fun movie to spend your time on and watch some good old-fashioned action!