post_300dvd.jpgI’ve never seen a movie screen take such a battering before as it did when it was showing 300 – this film was relentless in its assault on the cinema, bringing wave after wave of brutal violence and deafening war cries to your senses as you sit comfortably in your chair soaking in this expressive visual experience. Gerard Butler’s cries of “SPARTA!” were ringing in my ears for days after. And now, you can go through it all again at home- scaring the hell out of the cat while you do it.

300 is out now on DVD and with it comes over 90 minutes of additional footage, so there’s plenty more opportunities to watch Gerry walk round in his undies. But if that’s not exactly what you’re in to then you won’t exactly be disappointed, as the special features include a huge array of informative and interesting segments.

Because 300 is built predominantly around its stunning visual style, it’s no secret that this film swims at the shallow end of the narrative pool, so therefore I’m not going to spend too much time in this review looking at the story aspect of the film; instead I’m concentrating more on the style and additional features of the disc. But for those of you who need a plot refresher – 300 is the film adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel based on the epic historical battle between the vast Persian army and 300 Spartan warriors at Thermopylae. King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) leads his buffed-up combatants into battle to defend his nation and its freedom against Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his Persian army which number in the thousands.

It is important to remember that this film is adapted from Miller’s graphic novel, as this comic is the source of the incredibly striking landscapes and environments with which director Zack Snyder has placed so much emphasis on in the film. Snyder wanted to stay as close to the comic as possible in terms of imagery (also in story for that matter) in order to stay true to the author’s vision (it also helps with Miller being the executive producer). The result is a film shot entirely in front of blue screens leading to spectacular computer generated landscapes which have a strong mythical feel to them- perfect for a film of this subject.

This historic battle story is told in way that elevates the Spartans to legendary status, foregrounding their courage and bravery in the face of certain defeat. The film in its entirety works to emphasize the incredible lives that Spartans lived, and not just their warriors- but also their women and children as well. Scenes early on in 300 show, without restraint, the tough, brutal training and testing which every boy is required to undergo in order for him to grow into a highly-skilled killing machine, much like his father. Queen Gorgo played by Lena Headey embodies the Spartan woman; a strong, beautiful, physically fit woman who can well-and-truly hold her own and who is extremely proud of who she is and where she is from. As for the Spartan warrior, there is no greater honor that to fight and die for his city. This is the ultimate mark of distinction for all men who are raised in Sparta, and throughout the film this point is never forgotten.

I don’t quite know where to start in terms of reviewing the special features, as the list of interviews, mini-documentaries, and additional footage is endless (you definitely get your moneys worth if you decide to buy this one). Extensive interviews with Snyder and Miller provide insight into the vision behind the 300 graphic novel and film, and they describe the ways that Miller’s story varies from the actual historical event. Equally informative is a small doc on the real life Spartans, which provides you with a solid history lesson. A surprisingly hefty number of webisodes feature large amounts of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with crew members and actors Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, and Rodrigo Santoro about their roles. The actor’s grueling physical training for their roles is covered also, as well as features on costumes, sets, and CGI elements.

Despite lacking in plot depth, 300 is still a highly impressive film. Fashioning a uniquely stylized look and backed by its unwaveringly brutal battle scenes, 300 is an onslaught of testosterone which leaves you all amped up and ready to break some shit. This DVD is definitely one for the collectors.

Grade: A


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