It’s hard to believe that it’s already been ten years since 300 released in theaters. This movie was an adaptation of the comic by Frank Miller. It was a fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae between King Leonidas of Sparta and Xerxes of Persia. From a budget of $65 million dollars, this movie earned well over $400 million and a sequel. There were also numerous accolades and parodies based on its visual effects film style. Fans of Spartacus as well as a few other TV series could see the influences from this movie.
The question is, is 300 really a good movie or was it just eye candy?
We debate the merits here.
3 reasons for:
Ok, my counterpart may disagree but for $65 million dollars, the visuals at the time were stunning. I enjoyed the special effects and even watching the trailers again after 10 years, it’s almost hard to deny that this was a movie that you wanted to see. Sure, it was full of testosterone but seeing the messenger getting kicked slo-mo into that pit made you pumped to see what else could be done and this movie did not disappoint. Yeah, it was over-the-top, it was bloody and it was violent but it stayed mostly true to its comic book source. It was also hard to not see the look that this movie was going for. It was dark, grim and grimy and of course, the dialogue wasn’t all that great but you didn’t come for the oratory.
Not enough swords and sandal movies
Personally, I thought that at this point in 2006, this was probably one of the best movies to come along since Gladiator. After Gladiator released and did well at the Oscars, I was hoping it would pave the way for more movies in its genre. We got Troy, which was meh and we got Alexander which was a slow and boring train wreck. We did wind up getting HBO’s Rome, the aforementioned Spartacus as well as a few others, but 300’s style left a good mark on pop culture at that time. Even since this time, good movies taking place in ancient times have been far and few in between.
It was faithful to the comic
The biggest fanboy complain today is that comic book movies as well as the characters in them, don’t stay faithful to the comics. People hated Batman vs Superman because both characters strayed away from what made them who they are. There are also endless debates about the plotholes in many of the Marvel movies. But 300 was a shot for shot adaptation of the comic and it’s rare that comic book movies achieve a goal of not straying far from the source. Love it or hate it, 300 was the perfect comic book movie.
Let’s turn to my colleague to see what he thinks about 300.
3 reasons against:
It was true to comic in look but not in substance.
I admit, I love Frank Miller’s “300” comic. His story, coupled with Lynn Varley’s art, painted a picture of grit, heart, and honor straight from antiquity. The tale of the men of Sparta, led by the incorruptible Leonidas, standing strong against the mighty Persian empire was perfectly portrayed through every line of ink and dialogue. When it was announced that there would be a film adaptation, I was thrilled. Once I had seen the movie, I was disappointed in that while the comic was raw, dirty, and bloody, the film was glossy. Yes, I know some of you will say, “what are you talking about?? The film is straight up gore!” Watch it again, every camera angle glistens muscles and sweat, exuding a sense of sensuality. Even the deformed Ephialtes is shown as a ripped specimen. By the end, I longed to revisit the book and rushed home to read it.
The man catches a lot of flack for his directorial style and for good reason. In my humble opinion, he is all style, no substance. What makes Leonidas tick? I guess it is just anger so that Gerard Butler can growl. Why are the Persians so villainous? I guess because Xerxes is a land hungry body piercing addict. The only character with a heart to me was Queen Gorgo, portrayed by the excellent Lena Headey. She is left behind while the boys play at war to navigate the viper pit of the politicians while attempting to curry favor for her husbands stand against the future Iranians. As with “Man of Steel” or “Batman v Superman”, Snyder failed to invest me.
SFX and filming.
The film was shot almost exclusively in Chroma Key-green screen in layman’s terms. Snyder did this in an attempt to capture the gloss of the pages of a comic. It worked on a level but to me, it only succeeded in giving me a headache. As I previously stated, the film was shiny. The film was too shiny for me. The excessive use of Matrix-style slow motion was the icing on the cake for my disdain. The original Matrix used the gimmick to perfection, but the sequels over-killed the technique. Synder’s use of them took away from my enjoyment of the story as a huge distraction from the story and character development.
So, what do you think readers? Did you or did you not like 300 and after ten years, does it still hold up? Tell us why below.