Like Sin City
before it, 300
brings Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's graphic novel vividly to life. Gerard Butler (Beowulf and Grendel
, The Phantom of the Opera
) radiates pure power and charisma as Leonidas, the Grecian king who leads 300 of his fellow Spartans (including David Wenham of The Lord of the Rings
, Michael Fassbender, and Andrew Pleavin) into a battle against the overwhelming force of Persian invaders. Their only hope is to neutralise the numerical advantage by confronting the Persians, led by King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), at the narrow strait of Thermopylae.
More engaging than Troy, the tepid and somewhat similar epic of ancient Greece, 300 is also comparable to Sin City in that the actors were shot on green screen, then added to digitally created backgrounds. The effort pays off in a strikingly stylised look and huge, sweeping battle scenes. However, it's not as to-the-letter faithful to Miller's source material as Sin City was. The plot is the same, and many of the book's images are represented just about perfectly. But some extra material has been added, including new villains (who would be considered "bosses" if this were a video game, and it often feels like one) and a political subplot involving new characters and a significantly expanded role for the Queen of Sparta (Lena Headey). While this subplot by director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) and his fellow co-writers does break up the violence, most fans would probably dismiss it as filler if it didn't involve the sexy Headey. Other viewers, of course, will be turned off by the waves of spurting blood, flying body parts, and surging testosterone. (The six-pack abs are also relentless, and the movie has more and less nudity--more female, less male--than the graphic novel.) Still, as a representation of Miller's work and as an ancient-themed action flick with a modern edge, 300 delivers. --David Horiuchi
Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, 300
takes over the screen like an invading horde. With all the gushing blood of a horror movie and the scope of a classic epic, the second film from Zack Snyder (who helmed the 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead") is an impressive visual spectacle. In 300
, Gerard Butler ("The Phantom of the Opera") plays Leonidas, the king of ancient Sparta. The city is famous for its warrior philosophy and Leonidas won't kneel to the demands of Persia's King, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro, "Lost"). Instead, Leonidas leads his 300-strong army against Xerxes's army of millions. Meanwhile, his wife (Lena Headey, "The Brothers Grimm") campaigns in Sparta for the city to send reinforcements, as she butts heads with the treacherous Theron (Dominic West, "The Wire").