Take 300: a mixture of one car commercial/remake director, one sexy ‘graphic novel’ (from the creator of Sin City), spiced up with a few speeches about freedom, and served lukewarm with IMAX-tailored cinematography. The result: a product that even the creators refer to as the ‘300 experience’ rather than calling it a film.
Director Zack Snyder (of Dawn of the Dead-remake fame) remakes Gladiator and Sin City at the same time and casts snarling action figure Gerard Butler as the take-no-shit Leonidas, the king of the Spartans and patron of chiselled abs. And when Snyder expands Frank Miller’s original comic book by adding a political intrigue sub-plot, where limp-wristed liberals do their worst to hinder the brave Spartans from beating the hell out of a force of million Persians lead by the enigmatic Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), it’s hard not to start seeing this as a republican wargasm film. But maybe drawing such conclusions from this film are uncalled for, since 300 is pure entertainment, which does not concern itself with depth.
After such a my critical onslaught, it has to be said that 300 is nonetheless a fast-paced yarn and a stunning visually: every shot is a piece of art, sometimes directly lifted from Miller’s source work and the battle scenes are, at their best, breathtaking. Still, it’s hard to care for any of the two-dimensional characters and the end result is ultimately unsatisfying: this is combat pornography, where you can fast forward the boring bits and watch spears pierce flesh and blood-spattered man-flesh gleam. Which makes watching 300 like watching somebody play a game on a super-charged game console rather than sitting at the cinema.