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300 (SE)
DVD disk
Aug 13, 2007 By: Mathew Plale
300 (SE) order
Director:
Zack Snyder

Actors:
Gerard Butler
Lena Headey
Rodrigo Santoro

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Based [however loosely you believe] on the Battle of Thermopylae, Zack Snyder's 300 follows King Leonidas (Butler) and his Spartans as they face off against the Persians, led by King Xerxes (Santoro).
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
300 has faced heated criticism over its depiction of ancient Persians as barbaric savages. Though director Zack Snyder doesn’t doll-up the “enemy”, his movie isn’t worth analyzing the Spartans as Hitler Youth or any other such conclusions—it’s more than content with being a faithful comic-book adaptation.

300 (or, Braveheart 3.0), like 2005’s Sin City, is a Comic-Con wet dream based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, who has become a god amongst future comic writers and illustrators. Though it’s not nearly as entertaining (or even visually impressive) as Robert Rodriguez’s film, 300 still holds a distinct beauty—one that shines on the CGI horizons of Thermopylae and lurks behind each beheading.

Filmed almost entirely with blue and green screen technology, Snyder and the visual effects crew (which is likely to see an Oscar nom) have the privilege and power to create an alternate universe, one that is real and fake, creating images that are picturesque and pristine. The lovely Oracle Girl shot, by example, stands out (it was filmed with the actress in water backdropped with a blue screen).

So, imagery aside, how is the rest of 300, the biggest and bloodiest box-office surprise of 2007? Well, it has the acting and dialogue of a cancelled high school play, at least 300 characters (headed by Gerard Butler) with the bodies/personalities of pro wrestlers (not to mention the hunchback Ephialtes, a dead-ringer for Gary Busey), and is somehow both bloated and empty in the worst possible way. The battle sequences are what likely attracted such a large (and primarily male) crowd to the theater and video stores, but they themselves are chaotic with little benefit, so muddled in post-production “flair” they forget to be fun—this is without mentioning an aerial arrow assault lifted directly from Yimou Zhang’s Hero.

Zack Snyder’s (2004’s Dawn of the Dead) movie is both a leap forward and a step back: a fine achievement in computer effects but also too reminiscent of a videogame, lowering itself from art-form status. There’s also a narrator (Dilios, played by David Wenham) whose dialogue is as lively as a book-on-tape as he observes the simplistics onscreen: “The wolf begins to circle the boy…”

300 is a movie for the easily amused--something like a baby and a rattle. If that and the aforementioned flaws sound like something that won’t irk the living hell out of you, your weak-minded, strong-stomached self will love 300.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary by Director Zack Snyder: Snyder (and guests) leave more than enough gaps and never really get into the nitty-gritty that 300 fans would have liked. Still, some may want to have a listen.

Also on Disc One is an Easter Egg that can be found by pressing the “up arrow” on the Special Features page. The 300: Fact or Fiction? (24:32): Historians, director Snyder, author Frank Miller, and actor Gerard Butler discuss 300 and its historical context, giving an informative background on the story.

Who Were the Spartans?: The Warriors of 300 (4:24) is a short piece that goes into the customs and lives of the Spartan warriors. Could have been a bit longer, but still a solid addition.

Frank Miller Tapes (14:33) focuses on, you guessed it, Frank Miller. This is more than just a tribute piece, working more as examination of the author and his work. The highlight of the disc.

Making of 300 (5:50) is your run-of-the-mill making-of featurette. Skippable, but the set footage was cool. Its companion piece, Making of 300 in Images (3:39) is a hyperactive and quite irritating watch.

Deleted Scenes with Introduction by Zack Snyder (3:21): Here we get three scenes: a pair with Ephialtes, and one with a big ol’ monster.

The Webisodes (38:20) come in a package of 12 and cover a variety of topics: stunts, adapting the graphic novel, the culture of Sparta, and the characters, among others. Running the clips consecutively makes for a very good mini-documentary.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I was less than thrilled with 300 after Snyder's impressive work with the Dawn of the Dead remake. However, those who have already seen 300 and dug it will want to grab this fine 2-discer while it's hot.
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