This is review number one, for those wanting to read a decent, standard review. Review number two can be found by scrolling to nearer the bottom of the page.
Based on the source material by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, 300 is a sword & sandals epic for the MTV generation. It's full of inaccuracies, can be interpreted in a number of different ways by people looking to drag the film down a notch or two, and almost every line of dialogue borders on the snigger-inducingly ridiculous (due to either the wording or the sombre delivery). It's also a rollicking good time, visually lush and rarely dull.
Gerard Butler plays King Leonidas, a fearsome Spartan leader who stirs up some trouble when he decides to stand up to the Persian army. He's not authorised to take the army into battle so just goes for a wander instead. With 300 men (hence the title). One fight leads on to another, and that's pretty much the entire movie.
Directed by Zack Snyder, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Kurt Johnstad, 300 is the usual stylish product that you'd expect from him. Many are quick to accuse him of making movies that are nothing but style over substance, but I think that he often blends the two very well. Oh, his emphasis is very much on the style, undoubtedly, but his movies often warrant further exploration beyond whatever lies on the surface.
300 remains one of his best movies, although his very best is still his feature debut (that fantastic remake of Dawn Of The Dead), and this is due to the enjoyable source material and to the solid cast.
Butler is all that is man in the main role, with a six-pack to make even healthier specimens than myself feel slightly inferior. He is, as all the actors are, believably tough and fearless in his role. Standing by his side in battle are the likes of David Wenham, Michael Fassbender and Tom Wisdom. Lena Headey is the strong and beautiful Queen who does her best to gain support for her husband while he's at war, Stephen McHattie tries to offer her some sound advice, and Dominic West plays a character who is clearly more of a conniving politician than warrior. And then there's Rodrigo Santoro, making quite the impression as the towering Xerxes, a man who believes himself to be a god, even in the face of such strong opposition from the Spartans.
You could say that this entire movie is just a small group of men fighting a much larger group of men and you'd be right. But there's also a bit more to it. It has enough content to encourage some interesting thoughts and conversations, even if all of those thoughts and conversations call into question a number of decisions made in the creative process.
Review number two: "This . . . . . . IS . . . . . . . . . SPARTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"