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STUDIO: Warner Bros.
RUNNING TIME: 122 Minutes
- Jerry Weintraub Walk & Talk
- Additional Scenes
- Vegas: An Opulent Illusion
The popular casino heist/celebrity showcase returns for the last time, but we hope not!
Director/Cameraman: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reinder, & Elliott Gould
Writers: Brian Koppelman & David Levien
"Eve, do you think our story should be taught in schools?"
"Shut up and go interact with that Stegosaurus."
legendary battle at the Hot Gates stands as one of the more unique and
seemingly fantastical stories in history, a tale of few against many
and a moral king against a seriously amoral one. Was it real or
imagined? Is it a tale akin to today’s political climate? Modern
allegory has been read into this film just as the semi-classic The 300 Spartans
was analogous to The Cold War. Screw all that. This is war as filtered
through the heightened and acute lens of Zach Snyder. A comic book
movie turned experimental art film. Shut up and enjoy!
Devin reviewed this film quite wonderfully here
and because he’s a real critic and I’m a guy who likes to crack Reb
Brown jokes I’m going to call it as I see it without as much subtext.
Seriously, read his review. It’s excellent. I’ve got a less
intellectual take for this DVD so bear with me…
It’s very hard not to enter 300
with a skewed opinion before the first frame rolls by. Frank Miller is
a cornerstone in comic book history, as much as nearly anyone before
him. Though creators named Lee and Eisner and Kirby and Kane are
pioneers, their impact faced serious threats as the world changed in
the 1980’s. Comic books had endured swells when the medium became more
marketable in the wake of the 70’s, but it never got the adult market
like it deserved to [Eisner’s ‘Dropsie Ave.’ trilogy notwithstanding.
If you have not read it, just buy it.
Trust me]. Miller’s seminal work in the 80’s and early 90’s did a
massive job towards adding credibility and maturity to the medium, most
of his contributions true to the hype. That said, the man does polarize
people, especially in how he’s approached the latter phase of his
career whether in beating a dead horse [The Dark Knight Strikes Back, a couple too many Sin City stories] or segueing into film [the Sin City film arguments here at CHUD.com have been… interesting]. There’s considerable baggage once he enters the equation. After Sin City (my theatrical review, Devin’s theatrical review, regular DVD review, uncut DVD review)proved that his creations not only work on film but can be lucrative, 300 takes the idea many drastic steps forward. In fact, after 300 I find it harder to not only watch Sin City but be interested in it.
But that’s leading you astray. First, the basics…
Now I know why Dana Carvey’s been out of the public eye.
Butler is Leonidas, a Spartan warrior king trained from childhood to
conquer. We learn this as we see the man crush his enemies and defeat a
rather large CGI wolf. We also learn he is a loving husband and father
[and how could you not be were your wife the lovely Lena Headey?] as
well as a man’s man and a leader with true grit. He is also a Spartan,
something not to be taken lightly. In the film’s first confrontation, a
centerpiece to the film’s marketing, Leonidas deals with a Persian
messenger by kicking him into an abyss. This lead to the modern
catchphrase "Don’t Kick the Messenger Into An Abyss".
is an amazing central character for a film, a hero who rushes to face
his enemies. One who craves a good death. It’s extremely rich cinema,
especially in a time where heroic icons in films both modern day and in
retro epics tend to feel the need to deliver a cool line or do their
work in a way more cool than functional. The really great send-off in 300,
the "we’ll fight in the shade" line, doesn’t even come from Leonidas
but rather a soldier who looks a little like David Lee Roth circa Women and Children First.
Leonadas is a man of action, vividly displayed here in Snyder’s
sequences which merge several cameras, several speeds, and several
perspectives in a manner that truly works as muscular and exciting
Make no mistake, this is a showy film. Miller’s graphic novel and the events they’re based on are very singular. This is not Spartacus or Gladiator,
both of which are action films masked by meaty and complex stories.
This is a lean and mean action film that just happens to take place in
acnient times. It’s the saving grace of 300, its willingness to be a jack of one trade and to do it very, VERY well.
"But you’re too big to be Kuatooooooooooooommmmppppppppph!"
battles are quite breathtaking and the decision to shoot the film
almost entirely against a greenscreen could have been distracting if
the style and palette wasn’t confidently rendered. The film is a beast,
a nice mix of big moments and wonderfully brief ones. Seeing hordes of
Persians defeated effortlessly by crashing waves and rocks is a nice
counterweight to the quick dispatching of the first wave at the mouth
of the Hot Gates (Thermopylae), which dovetails perfectly into the
moment where the soldiers deal with a sky-blocking assaultof arrows.
It’s not drawn out and when the air clears there are some excellent
character moments for all of the principals.
Where the film falters is in the moments where it feels familiar, whether it be the somewhat silly [but pivotal] hunchback Ephialtes,
the treachery of the politicians back home, or the moments with the
Oracle which lean Leonidas to his fateful decision. Additionally, the
villains, though they may be cool, scary, and larger-than-life, are
very much scaled back in their conception. Xerxes is a giant and odd
creation and the Persians are mostly just fodder for the blade. The
film doesn’t need to create much personality for the adversaries but I
can see how some viewers may be disappointed in their lack of
There’s a definite sense of "been there, done that" at times, but 300 always gets back on course whenever Butler and his men are front and center.
Looks just like the comic. Sadly, that comic is not Ambush Bug #3.
This is a career
defining role for Butler, one which elevates him from a great
supporting character to a charismatic leading actor. His work, though
less complex than Russell Crowe’s similarly effective work as Maximus,
is just as memorable. With his steely eyes and jutting beard
Butler’s Leonidas is someone you could believe 300 men or 3,000 would
gladly follow to Hell’s flames. That’s the simplicity of this story and
this film which is so wonderful. Less concerned with a message than
telling a great story without fear of being too extreme in the
presentation [there’s even a little rock music layered in there], Zach
is a film that not only announces a truly interesting filmmaking talent
but also reminds you that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel if you
have some really bitchin’ spinners on it.
Xerxes we don’t have to crave a double-dip any time soon. The DVD
features a truly terrific and informative commentary track starring the
film’s auteur. The amount of work in creation here is astounding and
though in a way it’s not dissimilar to the way George Lucas shot the Star Wars prequels it feels a lot more genuine here. Snyder has seemingly limitless energy, something which bodes well for his Watchman adaptation, because the mixture of Dawn of the Dead, 300, and Alan Moore’s amazing prose suggests a wonderfull cocktail.
there’s a treasure trove of supplements on the second disc, mostof
which are not only worth seeing but ones which actually enhance the
experience. Though I personally find the film to be extremely
heightened, it’s nice to see that the crew involved historians and made
the effort to have the DVD be as informative as possible without losing
the electricity and skull-smashing fun of the film.
This is definitely one for the shelves, and the art, especially with the cardboard slipcase, is seriously badass.
9.0 out of 10
Hollywood Secret #498 – Gerard Butler has Mel Gibson’s ass and Charles Durning’s shadow.