Watching 300 is a visual experience, not a mental one. The movie, based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, is a retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, where 300 Spartans led by King Leonidas died holding off a Persian army of thousands led by Xerxes. Like other films based on the work of Frank Miller (Sin City, and Batman Begins-heavily influenced by his work), 300 is a movie for manly men. The action is fierce, the visuals are stunning, but in this case, take away the highly unique and stylized look of the film and there is not much going on underneath.

King Leonidas (Gerard Butler, The Game of Their Lives, The Phantom of the Opera) of Sparta receives an emissary from Persia. After consultation with his Queen (Lena Headey, Imagine Me & You, The Cave), and against the wishes of the government, he takes a force of 300 Spartans in order to do battle with the Persians. The Spartans are a highly trained force of men, buffed up beyond imagination and ready to sacrifice themselves for their country. Little do they know that within their government, Theron (Dominic West, Hannibal Rising, The Forgotten) is trying to undermine Leonidas' efforts.

This is not a subtle movie about politics, and is not a historically accurate retelling of a period of history, nor is it meant to be. Miller, Varley, and director Zach Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) and adapter Kurt Johnstad and Michael Gordon are primarily concerned with making a film that looks really cool and is very very masculine. It may border on superficial for many people, as much of the film consists of Leonidas and his men in battle. Snyder slows down and speeds up the movie, giving a surrealistic feeling to the numerous fight scenes. To further drive his point home, Snyder portrays the Spartans as noble and civilized. The men are handsome (with enough six-packs to supply a supermarket) and the women are beautiful. Persians on the other hand, are either mobs of faceless soldiers or misshapen mutants, led by an androgynous Rodrigo Santoro (Love Actually, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle).

Nearly all of the backgrounds were created with blue and green screen. Again, this gives 300 an otherworldly feeling which is the strength of the film. The look of 300 is gorgeous, which contrasts with the sheer violence that happens throughout most of the film. The movie is a rush of aggressive adrenaline, complemented by the fact that in battle, Butler (sporting an impressive beard) screams most of his lines as if he were a professional wrestler. With all of the posing and posturing, it is a bit hard to take 300 seriously at times. However, the film looks great, and is very entertaining.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 56 minutes, Rated R for graphic battle sequences throughout, some sexuality and nudity.

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