Friday, February 16, 2007


Frank Miller’s Sin City was a surprise hit at the box office, so it’s not a huge shock that more of his work has made it onto the big screen. 300 isn’t out until the end of March over here but I went to a press screening at the Odeon West End in Leicester Square with Dave Baillie on Thursday night. 300 is directed by Zach Snyder, previously responsible for the remake of Dawn of The Dead back in 2004, and the cast includes B-list actor Gerard Butler, David Wenham (Faramir in Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings) and Lena Headey, who was in Terry Gilliam’s patchy Brothers Grimm. 300 tells the story (or myth) of the 300 Spartan soldiers with their king, who held off a Persian invasion of their country in the dim and distant past. Visually, 300 is magnificent: Snyder, with the help of cinematographer Larry Fong and editor William Foy, has realised Frank Miller’s vision on screen in a manner that is grand, sweeping and dramatic, assisted by some impressive visual effects. Gerard Butler as King Leonidas of the put-upon Spartans is also magnificent and cuts an imposing figure on screen. But David Wenham, who plays the narrator of the film, one-eyed soldier Dilios, unfortunately has the sort of voice in this film that begins to grate very quickly. And Persian king Xerxes, played by Rodrigo Santoro, is camp rather than menacing as the villain of the piece, with his twinkling eyes and effeminate gait. Also, 300 could have done with some scenes that give the audience a little time to think: the action is frenetic and almost non-stop from the opening reel to the conclusion. But when it works, it really packs a punch: the fight scenes are visceral and beautifully shot and it doesn’t suffer from the fast cutting of many action films, giving the audience the chance to take in the full horror of what is unravelling before their eyes. Snyder is a good director, and given time, he may become a great one. So 300 is, like Sin City, a good adaptation of Frank Miller’s work which captures the spirit of the creator’s intentions while incorporating enough material to make it work for the cinema. So, despite the shortcomings I mentioned before, 300 is an honourable stab (if you’ll pardon the pun) and it’ll be interesting to see the mainstream audience’s reaction to this film…


Blogger Mark said...

Seeing some iffy reviews of it about, though: "the most overtly fascist Hollywood film thing to come out of the North American movie industry since, oh, I dunno, Robocop 2"; "If Braveheart were stripped of its meat, spray-painted gold and served as the poorest of value meals at McDonalds, there's a good chance you'd end up with something resembling 300", etc.

I remember thinking the book looked spectacular but lacked much in the way of heart and soul when it came out. Maybe the movie follows this template too closely.

Och, I'm sure I'll get around to seeing it when it hits Sky Movies.

11:45 pm  
Blogger Pam Shirkey said...

Fascist movie? Is that how one would describe a group of soldiers who volunteer for a suicide mission to slow down the advance of an army numbering in the hundreds of thousands that want to wipe our your form of democracy (defending Greece, remember) and replace it with obedience to a God King of the Persian Empire? While this movie is not a history lesson, it certainly does pose the question "Is it better to die defending your country or bow down to a dictator?". I take exception to that reviewer and your repeating his comments. Being a free country (thanks to the Greeks who died defending their country), I guess I can just add my grumble here and wonder who thought Braveheart had meat?

1:13 am  
Blogger Mark said...

Uh, great angle on Ancient History there, Pam.

8:50 pm  
Blogger Spud said...

Well it looks the dogs bollox to me! Popcorn Bloodfest of the highest order! Joel you are a dirty scummer for not recording it on your mobile phone and letting all your pals watch it!

5:09 pm  

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