BOOKS 2 FILM >> 300

books to film300 DVD reviewAlthough the story may be as stripped-down as the Spartans themselves, 300 is one of those phenomenon films worth seeing just for imagery alone. Of course, it has Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s graphic novel to thank for that.

Proving his DAWN OF THE DEAD remake was no fluke, sophomore director Zack Synder lensed this rooted-in-fact actioner, based upon the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, in which 300 determined Spartans held their own against exponential armies of Persians.

Gerard Butler – to me, he’ll always be DRACULA 2000 – stars as King Leonidas, the Spartans’ leader. He looks just like the character from the book, and indeed, this is a recurring trend. The film makes a better point of Leonidas’ internal struggle between doing what is right for his people vs. doing what is right for himself.

Much of this hinges on the film’s one true departure from the book: the addition of his wife, Queen Gorgo, played by a radiantly beautiful Lena Headey. While the Spartans square off against legions of spear-wielding soldiers and the occasional monster, the queen is shown defending her husband’s honor back home, by any means necessary.

The first half of 300 is all buildup – and admittedly, boring at patches – as it paves the way for the true reason moviegoers turned over $210 million for tickets: the battle scenes. And, oh, those battle scenes! They’re as visually exciting as anything you’re apt to see all year. Actually, even the slow stuff upfront is stunning, with every scene a marvel of production design and a work of art. One could grab a random frame from the film, have a print made, and hang it above the fireplace, and visitors would be envious.

300 reviewIn these sequences, one can see how panels from Miller’s work were lifted directly onto Synder’s viewfinder. The latter does an excellent job of using the former’s work as a template, but then building bridges between the individual scenes to fill in the action and make it come truly alive. Has there ever been a case where a film followed its source material so closely?

The DVD’s bonus features make just how clear, with side-by-side comparisons of certain key scenes. More interesting is a conversation with Miller himself, in which he reveals his main – and unlikely – influences in writing 300: hard-boiled crime writers like Jim Thompson and Mickey Spillane, particularly for their to-the-point approach in dialogue.

At the end of this feature, Miller turns to Snyder and asks how in the heck the director is going to make his next project work: an adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ WATCHMEN. One thing’s for sure: It won’t look dull. –Rod Lott

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5 Comments »

Comment by Michael Padgett
2007-08-06 11:58:25

I had such high hopes for this, not because I’m a fan of graphic novels (I’m not, and had never heard of the one it’s based on) but because I’d been so remarkably impressed with Snyder’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead”. Plus the trailers and tv ads looked like nothing I’d ever seen before. And right from the start I was floored by the way the thing looked. But that awe at the look of it wears off after about 20 minutes, and you’re left with 3-4 hours (well, it SEEMED that long)of lousy acting and crappy writing that rarely rises to the level of fourth rate pulp. There were two good lines in the movie (you know what they were), and both were heard in the ads/trailers. What little is impressive about it will be lost watching it on even the best home system. I saw this in a theater, and if you see it on DVD you’re going to wonder even more than I did what the fuss was all about.

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Comment by admin
2007-08-06 12:02:46

I didn’t get to see it in theaters, but it still looked great on DVD, and my TV is as old as my marriage (13 years, if you’re counting). I’m fine with the acting because it’s not a movie that requires or ask for greatness, but yes, the writing is off, which is why some of it is so slow. Since much of the second half is fighting, I can imagine the writers plopping “battle scene here” in the screenplay.

 
 
Comment by 60 in 3
2007-08-06 12:32:03

I liked it. It was mindless fun but very visually impressive. One thing that people don’t quite understand is that, while the movie stayed true to the comic, the comic is not quite true to history. Seems like something you wouldn’t need to explain to most people, but you’d be surprised :)

Gal

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Comment by MARIA300
2007-08-08 06:12:16

300? THE BEST EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GERRY ILOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Comment by Keith
2007-08-09 09:41:02

I loved this movie. It was beautiful to look at. I had loved Synder’s “Dawn of the Dead,” even if I hadn’t wanted to. I didn’t like the idea of the remake. I wanted to see what he would do with “300.” He didn’t disappoint. The battles scene were amazing. Some of the best I’ve seen in years. I thought Gerry Butler captured the heart and soul of this hero.

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