300 (Two-Disc Special Edition)

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Rating: R

Starring:
Gerard Butler as King Leonidas
Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo
Dominic West as Theron
David Wenham as Dilios
Vincent Regan as Captain
Michael Fassbender as Stelios
Tom Wisdom as Astinos
Andrew Pleavin as Daxos
Andrew Tiernan as Ephialtes
Rodrigo Santoro as Xerxes
Giovani Cimmino as Pleistarchos

Special Features:
Additional Scenes of the Traitorous Hunchback and Never-Before-Seen Giant Warriors
Frank Miller’s Vision Realized on Film
300 Spartans – Fact Or Fiction?: The Shocking Life of a Spartan Revealed
Who Were The Spartans?: How the Actors Built Their Characters Based on Spartan Customs
Webisodes: Go on Set with the Cast and Crew
Commentary by Director Zack Snyder – and more!

Other Info:
Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Language
Running Time: 116 Minutes

Synopsis:
“300″ is based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. It is also based on the real world Battle of Thermopylae.

In 480 BC, the Persian army begins its invasion of Greece. While most of the Greek states are reluctant to do battle with Xerxes and his overwhelming forces, King Leonidas of Sparta decides to take matters into his own hands. Without the support of the country’s politicians, he leads 300 Spartan warriors to do battle with over 2 million Persians. He chooses a small mountain pass, the Hot Gates, as the location for battle. Leonidas and his small band deal the Persians an overwhelming blow, but is it enough for the other Greek states to regroup and take a stand?

“300″ is rated R for graphic battle sequences throughout, some sexuality and nudity.

The Movie:
Like “Sin City,” “300″ is a visually stunning film that takes Miller’s art panel for panel and throws it up on the big screen. The result is a beautiful, haunting, and often gory film that is unlike any war movie ever seen. The imagery sticks with you long after the film ends. Fans of the original graphic novel should be more than happy with this adaptation. It is just as faithful as “Sin City” was. The costumes look incredible and the environments are so beautiful and surreal that it’s hard to believe it’s all done on green screen.

The cast of “300″ is excellent. Gerard Butler delivers a memorable performance as King Leonidas. Not only does he deliver emotional dialogue and patriotic speeches, the guy is ripped. When he goes into action, there’s no doubt in your mind that he’s capable of slicing and dicing Persians. This is also a breakout role for Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo. She’s beautiful and noble as the love of King Leonidas. And while the real action is taking place far away, frequent cuts back to her continue the political intrigue going on at the homefront. David Wenham also plays Dilios, the narrator of the story. He serves as our eyes and ears in the film and really pulls you into the narrative. You get a real sense that a Greek myth is unfolding before you despite the fact that its based on true events. You’ll also find Rodrigo Santoro from “Lost” utterly unrecognizable as Xerxes.

Finally, be sure to stick around for the bloodiest credits EVAR!

“300″ frequently goes over the top and it was a little much for me at times. For example, there are a few fantasy monsters and beasts in the film. The real story of the Battle of Thermopylae is so incredible and epic that it doesn’t really need those fantasy embellishments to make it stunning. (I recommend you read “Gates of Fire” by Steven Pressfield. It’s the truly definitive telling of the story.)

Continuing the theme of being over the top, there’s a lot of gore and nudity that didn’t do anything for the story. Of course they are trademarks of a Frank Miller story, but it got to the point where it lost its impact. By the time the Spartans have gutted their 1000th Persian, you’re kind of saying, “What else do you have to offer?” It also made the final fall of the Spartans a bit unbelievable since they faced seemingly more overwhelming odds in earlier scenes.

The pacing of “300″ was also tedious at times. There were frequent scenes where everything starts moving in slow motion. I realize it was done for mood and so you could appreciate the imagery, but it was unnecessary. It came across as pretentious at times, too.

The Extras:
Here are the highlights of the special features:

Additional Scenes of the Traitorous Hunchback and Never-Before-Seen Giant Warriors – There are only three deleted scenes and even with all the introductions with Zack Snyder, they only last 3 minutes and 22 seconds. As stated, they feature two scenes with the hunchback and one with a giant.

300 Spartans – Fact Or Fiction?: The Shocking Life of a Spartan Revealed – This featurette discusses the differences and similarities between the real life Spartans and those shown in the movie 300. It’s about 24 minutes long and features historians discussing the brutal training, King Leonidas, and the culture of the Spartans.

Who Were The Spartans?: How the Actors Built Their Characters Based on Spartan Customs – This is a brief 5 minute video where the actors discuss the Greek characters that they portray in the movie. It’s kind of redundant after the previous video because it delves into the actual historical facts behind the Spartans with the same people.

Webisodes: Go on Set with the Cast and Crew – These webisodes cover the actors, the production design, effects, and more. If you missed them online, now’s your chance to check them out. These are the highlights of the bonus features.

Frank Miller Tapes – This is a 14 minute video where Zack Snyder and various people from the comics industry praise Frank Miller. Miller also talks about his early attempts at making comic books, his mentors, creating 300, and more.

Making of 300 – Believe it or not, this is a short, 6 minute video on the making of the movie. Unfortunately, it’s mainly footage from the movie broken up by brief comments from the cast and crew. There’s a little bit of behind the scenes footage, but not nearly as much on the special effects as I would have hoped.

Making 300 in Images – This is a 4 minute video showing the crew creating the sets, shooting scenes, etc. Photos flash by so quickly that you almost can’t see anything.

The Bottom Line:
If you’re a fan of the original “300″ graphic novel or if you liked “Sin City,” you’re more than likely going to enjoy “300.”

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