300 is a masterpiece! Read on:
It’s truly difficult to resist making epic proclamations about a filmmaker’s career after watching something like 300. Director Zack Snyder, the man responsible for a superlative remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, adapts Frank Miller’s graphic novel with passion and creativity, proving that classical storytelling will never go out of style — especially if more filmmakers are able to make it look as cool and exciting as this. Combining old-school mythmaking with ultramodern technique, Snyder has crafted a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that is unlike any movie audiences have seen, and in so doing he may have sealed his own fate as a possible redeemer of modern moviemaking.
Gerard Butler plays Leonidas, the wise king of Sparta. Raised with the utmost ideals — honor, duty, glory — Leonidas is a brilliant military strategist and egalitarian champion of personal freedom. So when news arrives from Persia to herald Xerxes’ (Rodrigo Santoro) sovereignty over Sparta, he rebuffs the declaration and announces that his countrymen must fight to preserve their way of life. Unfortunately, the Spartan elders honor an ancient and fickle belief system that prohibits Leonidas from challenging the impending Persian hordes.
Fearing for the safety and freedom of his people, Leonidas enlists 300 soldiers — declared his personal bodyguards — and mounts a valiant defense against Xerxes and his limitless armies. Meanwhile, his wife, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), attempts to employ more diplomatic means to solicit support from the Spartan council, even as Theron (Dominic West) poisons its members to her plan from within.
The simplicity of the plot is the film’s greatest virtue. Rather than languishing in the details of military strategy or inundating audiences in the subtleties of Spartan politics, director Snyder renders Miller’s story in big, broad strokes. For example, the film’s opening sequence introduces rather simply the cultural tradition that inspired larger-than-life figures like Leonidas: Great men are born and bred, nurtured in their natural abilities and trained to serve a specific purpose. Indeed, this sequence not only explains everything one needs to know about the hero, but reveals the origins of his masterful battle strategy… not to mention the Spartan philosophical ideals upon which it is based.
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In Theaters: March 9, 2007
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