300 directed by Zack Snyder:
I have to say that some people take themselves and life too seriously! Greek film critics were in an uproar about the way that the Spartans are portrayed in director Zack Snyder’s (Dawn of the Dead) film 300. Let’s look at things in perspective, people! It is a film not a history class or even a documentary. The film’s primary purpose is to entertain not to be the final word on the Spartans or the Battle of Thermopylae. The director wanted to make a film of a true historical event which is steeped in mythology. This leaves Snyder with much room when it comes to artistic license. The Spartan warriors could look as he wished not having to be fighting their battles in cumbersome armour.
Another group of critics have claimed that the film is a commentary of the present U.S. – Iraq war with the Spartans being the Americans. Not everything is political commentary! We are so prone to colouring everything we see with out present-day eyes that we cannot seem to take things simply at face value. Several times during the film there are hints that this is a film about the Spartans told from their perspective with no modern influences.
I think the first clue of the fact that the film is style over substance is its look. The film is almost completely enhanced by CGI graphics. I am sure that there was not one scene in the film that was not shot in front of a blue screen. It looks great – total eye candy! Part of the congratulations for that has to go to the city of Montreal and Mel’s Cinema as the film was shot here. Like Sin City before it the film is an adaptation of a Frank Miller graphic novel and is full of comic book style violence and colourful scenes. Practically every scene is totally surreal in look so why would we take any of it as gospel truth? There are scenes of stampeding rhinos and physically impossible battle sequences. It is all slick, cool and total fantasy. If you squint at the screen it almost looks real and we, the viewers, want it to be real, but it isn’t. It’s entertainment and darn good entertainment! Things should be placed in context and put into perspective. The film is a great one which succeeds in its goals to be entertaining and stylish.
Besides being violent and gritty, the film is surprisingly (for me, anyways) sexual. There is plenty of homoerotic stuff in it. The Spartan warriors are all incredibly buff and run around half naked the whole film. Come to think of it most everybody is in states of undress (by our standards) in the film. On the female side, Lena Headey wears one eye-popping outfit after another or she is completely naked.
Disregarding what the Oracle has told him and even his own city council, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler – Phantom of the Opera – 2004, Dear Frankie) brings 300 of the best Spartan warriors with him to do battle against Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro – Love Actually, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle) and his huge Persian army. His Queen, Gorgo (Lena Headey – The Remains of the Day, The Cave), is trying to defend her husband with the city council while doing battle with the slimy Theron (Dominic West – Hannibal Rising, Mona Lisa Smile), who has his own agenda. She is hoping to convince them to send the rest of Sparta’s army into battle with the brave 300. Leonidas has decided that battling the much larger Persian army at Thermopylae in the restricted confines of the Gates of Hell is the best strategy. The soldiers know that this mission is basically a suicide one and they have no pretences about surviving. They just want to hold off the Persians long enough until the rest of Greece decides to join in the battle.
-Frank Miller’s Vision Realized on Film
-300 Spartans – Fact or Fiction?
-Who Were the Spartans?
-Commentary by Director Zack Snyder
300: Rise of an Empire directed by Noam Murro:
The Persians are looking for revenge and are bringing the full might of their navy down upon the Greeks. Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton – from television’s Blindspot) has been tasked with warding off the Persians who are led by a mortal who is now a god, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro – 300, Focus), and navy commander, Artemesia (Eva Green – from television’s Penny Dreadful).
The primary reason to watch this sequel is Eva Green. She is fantastic as the Persian naval commander. The lady knows how to play Frank Miller’s tough female characters. Other reasons include the wild naval battle scenes, an interesting enough story and is pretty action packed.
That being said it certainly is not as good as the original. Also the anti-Persian sentiment running throughout made me a little uncomfortable.
-3 Days in Hell
-Taking the Battle to Sea
-Real Leaders & Legends
-Becoming a Warrior