300: A Review

Synopsis (courtesy of Fandango): In 480 B.C. a state of war exists between Persia, led by King Xerxes, and Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas (Gerard Butler), king of the Greek city state of Sparta, leads his badly outnumbered warriors against the massive Persian army. Though certain death awaits the Spartans, their sacrifice inspires all of Greece to unite against their common enemy. Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City) and Lynn Varley.

Analysis (courtesy of Paolo): When I first saw the previews for this movie, I was turned off. The cinematography looked too fake and overproduced for my tastes, especially for a film based on (somewhat distorted) history. Yet, after I received nearly immediate recommendations from Matt and Sergio, I bought my ticket for Saturday night. When the credits rolled, I could understand why this film has gone on to gross $70 million already.

Audiences are immediately won over by the underdog approach of the story: The small (300-man) but mighty Spartan elite army is to fight millions of invading Persians. Patriotic, American themes lace the story line. Defending freedom, fighting slavery, and Western civilization vs. (Middle?) Eastern civilizations are major story themes. Bonus: I can't remember the last time I saw so much T and A in an R-rated movie.

This movie bleeds testosterone. More than half the movie is battle – fantastic, visually compelling, gory fight scenes. I'm thinking one of the producers of "300" took a poll and figured out that most of what people liked about "Gladiator" and "Lord of the Rings" were the fight scenes, and said, "Let's make a movie about one of the greatest battles in history." Good idea.

Gerard Butler gives a great performance in a Mel Gibson-Braveheart sort of way as the protagonist Spartan King, Leonidas. He rarely speaks outside of a half-yelling, growling kind of tone. He's a badass. It's perfect. Lena Heady gives a standout performance as Queen Gorgo (Correction amended). She conveys power, intelligence, and she's sexy – often wearing next to, and sometimes, nothing. (Note: I'm not being sexist. I'm respecting the director's decision to be authentic to the times.)

I recommend this movie to anyone wanting to see a great action film and encourage you to see it in theatres (or IMAX) as you'll need big sound and the big screen to gain the full experience of such an epic movie.