CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

"300" is smashing expectations

The fate of the world is full of turning points. Upon
reflection moral clarity seems so simple, whether it
was William Wallace leading the Scots against the
English or Davy Crockett at the Alamo, heroic
sacrifice lives beyond tyrannical actions. While
battles were lost on the field, the war for humane
evolution has endured. "300" is the latest movie to
describe this notion of heroism in the face of defeat.

Perhaps the battle of Thermopylae is the first
documented example of drawing a line in the sand. 300
Spartans prevented thousands of Persians from invading
Greece civilization. Using trees, rocks, canyons as
their ally, the 300 hundred Spartans slowed the
invaders lead by Xerxes (Rodgrigo Santoro), a cruel
leader who believes he is a god. Beyond outnumbering
the Spartans 1000 to 1, the Persians incorporate
showmanship and diversionary tactics into their brand
of warfare, utilizing, ugly giants, raging rhinoceros
and elephants for combat.

Opposing Xeres is King Leonidas (Gerard Butler).
Leonidas is born of warrior blood and is trained by
his father to become a Spartan. At age 7, the boy is
taken to Spartan Training camp where he learns to
control his fear or die. As a rite of passage, young
Leonidas is abandoned in the mountains as part of his
vision quest. Upon his return, Leonidas marries Queen
Gorgo (Lena Headey) and rules Sparta with political
justice, Greek reasoning and Spartan nationalism.

"300" is the movie adaptation of a Frank Miller
graphic novel. The emphasis of this movie is on the
visualization with comic book gallows humor and dark
comedy. The first battle between the Spartans and the
Persians looks like the line of scrimmage of a
football or rugby game. There are moments of balletic
fencing and limb chopping. These scenes are brutal
for the weak hearted, but are artistically rendered.

The turning point of the battle occurs when a father
watches his son get decapitated. As the tide turns,
one sees betrayal that is plausible within the scope
of the narrative. For all of the graphic novel
spectacle on the green screen, "300" is a character
driven piece of cinema.

After years in supporting roles in films like "Lara
Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life" and "Timeline,"
Gerard Butler confidently takes on the leading man
reins as King Leonidas. This Scottish actor in Greek
makeup is reminiscent of Sean Connery from "Time
Bandits." Lena Headey is an equal match for her King
and she provides pragmatic feminism. Narration is performed
by David Wenham, veteran of "The Lord of the Rings" and "Van Helsing."

In eight days "300" has earned nearly 130 million dollars. Most elitist critics
have referred to this box office gross as another example of the downfall of civilization as we know it. It is these elitist critics that do not understand that the history presented in "300" marks when western civilization sacrificed itself against fanatical menace.
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