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300 (Film) Review by Amit Dixit
A brief review of 2007 visual effects heavy film "300”, - the movie based on Graphic novel by Frank Miller and the story of most famous last Stand
CGIndia Feature

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures [ Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), the Persian king ]

Yeah, I finally watched the movie and its time for a brief review as people including me was going ga..ga about this epic movie. First of all I want to tell you that; it’s pretty hard to satisfy me, as I have lot of expectation from any epic movie. As you all know, the movie is about the most famous last stand in history; In 480 B.C., a small army of 300 Spartan warriors led by King Leonidas held off 100,000 Persian invaders under the command of King Xerxes at a narrow canyon called Thermopylae. 300 (film) is adaptation of the graphic novel 300 by Frank Miller and partly inspired by another film, The 300 Spartans.
The film is directed by Zack Snyder with Frank Miller as executive producer and consultant. 300 were mostly shot indoors, against a blue screen because all the backgrounds were added later using CGI techniques. First of all Gerard Butler magnificently done justice to role Spartan King Leonidas and his commanding voice suites well for the role of Spartan King. Beside him other actors who played characters like Spartan queen, Persian King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Spartan captain are worth mentioning. Although narration was fair enough, I didn’t find it all that interesting for an epic. Also there is a tremendous lack of chemistry between all the characters and the movie lacks the human emotions or fall short of portraying them in a right way…I am sure there must be more to Spartan warriors than their thirst for war and blood in name of honor. Among recent movies, The Last Samurai did pretty fair portrayal of human emotions during war.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures [ As the Spartan phalanx led by Leonidas (Gerard Butler, center) advances, the rear column of attacking Persians falls over the cliff's edge and into the sea below. - Image text from How-stuff-work website]

300 (film) Visual Effects did really steal the show and probably the top most reason for which people will go and watch this movie. The team of more than five hundred plus CG Artists, animators and VFX professionals working in graphics studios around the world did a great job of portraying the 3d world as per the Frank Miller graphic novel 300. Showers of blood, decapitations sequences and corpses lying every where in most of the shots, earned an R rating for 300. The digital blood they used gives very 2d ‘ish comic like looks. All n all visual effects made this movie all that great.

Another Great thing and well worth mentioning is the costumes and choreography of the fight scenes. The formation in which Spartans where fighting is quite magnificent, and some fight sequences seems to me like very well crafted and carefully performed ballad...the ballad of death. These well choreographed fight sequences coupled with blood splatters was really quite awesome to watch.

Some sequences and elements in this movie also reminds me of other recently made epic movies, for example: Narration or story telling in 300 was done by the fellow soldier - just like in Troy, Queen walking in “the fields” when she got the last message from the Spartan king – background and environment is just like in 2000 epic movie Gladiator, the king (Gerard Butler) takes flash back about his queen in climax scene – again just like in the climax of Gladiator, climax scene; when Gerald butler (king Leonidas) stand tall watching the rain of arrows coming his way to take his life – Just like in 2002 film HERO starring Jet Li ……I see, Inspiration is coming from everyway for Zack Snyder or you may say; he did his homework.

Now let’s talk about the direction part of the movie, I feel Zack Snyder has done a great job of turning Frank Miller novel into a movie. But I also feel the movie lacks the portrayal of human emotions, drama and chemistry between the characters. You may also feels the glue which binds two scenes together is missing sometimes, in some parts of the movie. Above all when you make a movie you have to control the pitch or intensity of movie and you can’t fluctuate this intensity randomly …..This control of intensity makes or break any movie, until unless the movie requires-it ; for example - Plupfition, Mementos etc. There are two many scenes in which Gerald butler (king Leonidas) gives moral boosting speech to his army of 300 men and mostly comes out of the blue without any support scene.

Now let’s comes to the climax part, which I think is the greatest mistake in the movie. Scene goes like; An traitor (hunchback) reveals a secret trail to Persian king, which lead the Persian army to a advantage position behind Spartan soldiers and their rain of arrows crumple the Spartans army like castle of playing card. If they stopped millions of arrow before than why don’t in the end? The scene is too simple and won’t give a proper; Grand n glorious death to the mighty Spartans, remember you have to create sympathy for them in audiences mind.
According to me, one way of doing this climax scene goes like that - Using the secret trail they come behind the Spartans, and attack them from all sides eventually breaking their formation and each Spartans would have shown fighting many Persian….get butchered by them in the end; this emphasize the main theme of the movie – one against many (300 against many) and honor. Anyways, never mind it’s only my personal opinion and 300 still remains a Great n Must watch movie . Iran controversy surrounding the movie gives a nice boost to its publicity and other than its visual effects, one more reason for public to watch 300-the film. As far as overall direction is concerned Zack did a great job and justice to Frank Miller novel.

Related Links:
Watch The 300 - Teaser Trailer
How stuff works article --> Inside 300*

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