Friday, 18 March 2011

300


Having recently written a review of another Zack Snyder film, Watchmen, various people had made comments about 300. I have seen 300 before, and wasn't too enamoured of it, but I wanted to watch it again with an open mind, so I duly added it to our Love Film list. To my surprise I really enjoyed it.

300 is the story of 300 Spartan warriors led my King Leonidas (played by Gerard Butler's teeth), and their brave stand against the hordes of the Persian army fighting under Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), a self-proclaimed emperor-god. I will make it clear now that I have no idea how historically accurate the film is; I suspect there may be a nugget of truth there, I really don't know. What I do know is that some of my previous niggles with the film were a bit unfounded.

One of my complaints was David Wenham; I just didn't think that he was narrator material. I think perhaps I was being a bit harsh. He doesn't have a striking, imposing voice, but it acts as a good foil for Gerard Butler. Also it is rather the point that he has a storyteller's voice, as he is asked by Leonidas to return to Sparta to tell the story of how the 300 stood against thousands. Indeed, at the climax of the battle when Leonidas' helmet and shield are cramping his style, I thought Wenham's narration was utterly convincing; it vaguely conjured up memories of Maximus' "Husband to a murdered wife..." line, but not quite.

Another of my complaints had been some of the effects, specifically the background effects. Actually, most of the time these are perfect; the crashing sea as the Persian navy comes to grief, and the background of the senate is pretty good. The only thing I didn't think was great was a couple of the scenes that were clearly filmed outside on a sunny day (Leonidas and Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) saying farewell in a field of wheat - Gladiator influence) as their faces are very well lit. However, in the scene the sky is very overcast so the whole setup looks incongruous. I thought so anyway. I realise the whole film is shot high contrast to give the comic-booky feel, those few scenes stuck out though.

Anyway, enough with the minor niggles, the film is great! Zack Snyder shows he has real verve and style with the way he filmed this, everything about it is dynamic. The whole film has a very stormy feel to it thanks to cinematographer Larry Fong, and all of the battles look brilliant; gladly the slow-mo isn't overused and works really well. Gerard Butler is great as King Leonidas. I think maybe perhaps he could be accused of overacting at points: Tonight we dine in Hell! We will fight in the shade! Prepare for Glory!, but it's all really part of the fun.

                                King Leonidas played by Gerard Butler's teeth!

So despite my earlier misgivings, I really enjoyed 300, perhaps it's one of those films I should own, as I can foresee wanting to see it again, for some pure entertainment. Great main character, great fights, brilliantly filmed. Just one more thing: can someone please explain to me how I managed to recognise Michael Fassbender by his teeth?! A quick check on IMDB and yes, Fassbender is in this! By his teeth? I think I've only seen him in Inglorious Basterds, by no means am I that familiar with him! Strange.

Anyway. One more time everybody:

THIS IS SPARTA!