While Alan Moore’s comic tales are deliberately unfilmable, which has been proven by the directors who tried, Frank Miller’s epics like 300 always seemed to have a cinematic feel to them. Robert Rodriguez did it with Sin City, perfectly transferring Miller’s aesthetics from paper to the screen. I’m really glad to say that Zach Snyder continued the legacy with success. Despite it’s natural flaws, 300 is the eye candy of the year.
It’s the worldwide known story of Leonidas (Gerard Butler), King of Sparta, and his no-guts-no-glory suicide defense against one of the largest armies the ancient world witnessed, the Persians of King-God Xerxes. Told by a soldier who survived as a messenger for the people back home, this is a timeless war epic, not a cliche but the story that gave birth to every heroic battle cliche from then on. It’s not historically accurate, more like a tall tale based on the mythology that arouse from the facts.
Snyder followed thoroughly Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s steps, keeping the atmosphere, pallete, and most visuals from the graphic novel in tact. Whatever he added, never feels foreign and his respect for Miller’s work is always there. Sometimes you can see the panels come alive. CGI is of course top notch although it’s still a bit unreal. That is what makes it difficult for people who aren’t familiar with comic book aesthetics to relate to this kind of visual delight.
Acting is good, although Gerard Butler’s Leonidas and Dominic West’s Theron both have a lisp. I wonder if it’s from all the broken teeth one gets during basic training or “agoge”. Plus, shouting when not in battle could be perceived as overreacting. Details, details, details. They all do great work and Rodrigo Santoro seems right as the queer Xerxes, a man stripped out of everything masculine after leading a hedonistic and lush lifestyle as his. Two thumbs up for Lena Heady, the extra attractive, personality driven Queen Gorgo.
Art direction is right on spot as expected and music connects the epic past with the present’s worshiping of it. Metal was a great choice since ancient myths are frequently praised in that genre’s concept albums.
I should speak no more cause I’m a Greek dude and a sucker for wartime heroics and male predominant sexist comic book culture.
I’ll just say that Snyder recently got connected with the dead-end task of filming Alan Moore’s Watchmen. If he blows it, the momentum he gained from this one with the fan crowd could be long gone in a flash. Good luck to him.