Spectacular Ancient World Myth Comes Alive
Reviewed By: Avraham Azrieli
Avraham Azrieli writes books and screenplays. His website is: www.AzrieliBooks.com
300 is the first of two movies (the second is a 2014 sequel: 300 Rise of an Empire) dramatizing the war between the Persians and the Greeks. Specifically, 300 is loosely based on the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC) where reportedly an alliance of Greek city-states attempted to block the unstoppable, immense and all conquering Persian army in the mountain pass at Thermopylae. The small Greek force has been mythologized throughout history for its unwavering last stand, and this movie does them honor. The Persian king, Xerxes (played ably in the movie by Rodrigo Santoro) has over 100,000 fighting men when he invades Greece. The Spartans are only 300, aided by several hundred Arcadians. Xerxes uses various exotic tactics, featured in excellent special effects scenes, and the Spartans, led by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) do not accept defeat, fighting on against all odds. Meanwhile, back in Sprata, the Queen (Lena Headey) attempts to rile up support for her husband.
This is a movie whose power lies primarily in breathtaking visual effects, incredible sets, beautiful historic-proper designs and magnificent action scenes, all glued together by wonderful acting.
There are many moments when everything slows down to less than a crawl. The abundance of actual slow-motion action visuals hints of directorial fetish for the device, which works only when used sparingly. Moreover, multiple other scenes are acted very slowly, with long contemplative silences and drawn-out camera work. Consequently, in this movie, the fine line between dramatic and melodramatic is crossed regularly and crudely.
Nevertheless, 300 delivers great entertainment. It offers a powerful storyline, formidable acting by a talented cast, mesmerizing action, and unforgettable depiction of an ancient-world coming alive. It is evident that an enormous amount of hard work and well-directed comingling of various unique talents came together here to produce a truly spectacular historic war movie, whose reputation may join such famous productions as Spartacus, Ben Hur, and Laurence of Arabia. It is a worthwhile movie to watch, especially for those viewers who enjoy historic drama and ancient world spectacles.