300 is above all a great marriage of technology and material. Snyder brings Frank Millerís graphic novel to life in the same absolute way Robert Rodriguez did with SIN CITY. Even if youíre turned off by the bloody carnage or the glossy painted quality of the film, you have to admit that 300 is visually stunning and easy on the eyes, a world unlike anything weíd seen before. And not only is it gorgeous to look at, but it completely fits with its source medium. Scenes like the Oracle work even better than they did on paper. Itís also a great case of using blue screen to good effect, avoiding the visual stiffness of SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW.
This may not be an Oscar frontrunner, but the performances still work. Gerard Butler does great work here (and Iím not jus talking about all the ab crunches), sporting an impressive ability to yell almost every single line but still be taken seriously. Lena Heady turns a small role in the comics into something substantial enough to not make you want to fast forward every time the film turns away from the battle scenes. And I gotta give credit to LORD OF THE RINGíS David Wenham for actually pulling off the narration. When you read the words on the page, you think that thereís no way somebody can say such cheesy stuff, but the guyís voice just works perfectly.
But forget about all that. To unleash a little of the fanboy in me, 300 in the end is just a baddass flick, an epic manís man of a movie. The nonstop fight scenes, cartoony gore, quotable lines and infectious camaraderie between warriors just make it an enthralling movie to sit through. Pure cinematic testosterone. (Itís the same helpless feeling I get that makes me automatically watch anything with Sylvester Stallone.) Itís ultraviolent without remorse and its message of unwavering heroism and patriotic politics may be overly simplified, but damn if 300 doesnít get me all riled up and screaming ďSPAAAARTA!Ē
The main new feature on the Blu Ray is the Comprehensive Immersion option, which lets the viewer choose from 3 ďpathsĒ to take while watching the movie, presenting real time bonus material as the film plays. Youíll get trivia, behind the scenes footage, interviews with cast and crew and more, most of which is picture in picture. It provide hours of extra info that adds something to repeat viewings and is worth the price of the disc alone.The 3 paths are:
Creating A Legend: Learn about Frank Miller and his inspiration and work on the graphic novel and the film, as well as his take on the story.
Bringing the Legend to Life: Your basic making of the movie stuff, from funding to script to production. Youíll see what was real, what was CGI, what was puppets, etc.
The History Behind The Myth: For history nerds, get a real time take on what happens in the film vs. what really happened in real life. You just might learn something!
Blue Screen Picture In Picture Viewer: The Blu Ray also offers this awesome feature, which lets you watch the entire movie simultaneously with the raw blue screen footage without any special effects. An amazing look at how much work went in to this.
Commentary by Director Zack Snyder: Snyder, writer Kurt Johnstad and Director of Photography Larry Fong: Itís entertaining and informative, but for three guys thereís was a fair share of silence or fluff. Worth a listen for fans, but a lot of this info is featured in other areas on the disc.
The 300: Fact or Fiction? (24:36): Historians, Snyder, Miller, and even Gerard Butler talk about the film and its historical context. A quick history lesson for the uninitiated.
Who Were the Spartans? (4:32): Another quick lesson in to the lives of the Spartan warriors. Short and sweet.
Preparing for Battle (6:43): Get an exclusive Blu Ray look at the test fight scene that convinced the studio to greenlight the film, with interviews and background info from Snyder, Miller and others. Itís very bloody and reminiscent of the final product.
Frank Miller Tapes (14:43): The outspoken author gives a look in to his thought process and work. Great for comic fans.
Making of 300 (5:51): A quick making-of featurette that pales in comparison to some of the other stuff on the disc.
Making of 300 In Images (3:40): Rapid fire stills from the first to last day of shooting.
Deleted Scenes (3:21): Only three: a couple with the hunchback and one with another creature. Each comes with an intro by Zack Snyder.
The Webisodes (38:20): Twelve short pieces covering a variety of topics, including production design, individual actors, training, stunts, and more. Altogether it makes for a good documentary.
Also included is a 40- page booklet with behind the scenes photos, new sketches by Frank Miller, a manual for navigating the special features and more.
Extra Tidbit: If you havenít already, check out the hilarious PG version of the 300 trailer.