Reviews

Review: 300

Wow.

That's the only way to describe the visual effects in "300" (IMDb listing). Based on the graphic novel by "Sin City" creator Frank Miller, "300" follows the story of King Leonidas and the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C.

The story of King Leonidas is told by his comrade-in-arms, Dilios (David Wenham), who is sent back to Sparta to reveal this tale of victory and defeat.

When King Xerxes of Persia (an unrecognizable Rodrigo Santoro) sends a messenger to King Leonidas (Gerard Butler with too much eyeliner) of Sparta to surrender or die, Leonidas gathers 300 of his best men to take on Xerxes and his army of tens of thousands. With wit and cunning, skill and superior strength, Leonidas manages to take down a good chunk of Xerxes' men.

Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan), a deformed hunchback Spartan who is spurned by Leonidas, turns out to be his Achilles' heel when he lead Xerxes' army through a goatpass in the mountains. While most of the film is special effects, Ephialtes is all prosthetic, except for one eye. “The other eye is a CG-eye. CG-eye! Get it?” says director Zack Snyder (2004's "Dawn of the Dead").

Meanwhile, Leonidas' wife, Gorgo (Lena Headey), enlists the help of seedy Spartan politician Theron (Dominic West) to sway the officials to send more troops to aid her husband and the 300, but even back two and a half millenia, the politicians then were corrupt as well.

Shot in only 60 days, the film took more than a year in post production since most of the backgrounds were visual effects.

Visually stunning, the film will probably win awards for its FX. Any epic battle in history is bound to be a great story if told right. "300" got a little hokey for me, though, about an hour in when the various creatures Xerxes sends to fight Leonidas starts off with a “Sloth” from "Goonies" look-a-like to a mish-mosh of hunchbacks, lepers, and weird hybrid animals. And I'm not sure what a Spartan accent sounds like, but each Spartan in the film seemed to hail either from Scotland, England, the U.S., and anywhere in between. Not one Greek among them.

The film will do well with male audiences and Gerry Butler fans. Its historical subtext is a subtle commentary on the current political climate today.

For me, this is definitely a guy's film. Lots of graphic beheading, be-arming, and be-legging to be found, but ladies take heart: there's also lots of tanned, ripped Spartan flesh running around in metal underwear and red capes. Now that's what I call a Super Man.

Filmfodder Grade: C+