I went to see this with Irony Boy. I was quite excited because it got a 2 page glowing review in Time (although this review was less than complimentary). It's brilliant, despite...
...being based on a comic book version of events
...being filmed almost entirely in CGI
...featuring unknown actors (well, I didn't recognise any of them).
If the Matrix sequels and the Star Wars prequels (especially episodes 2 and 3) have put you off CGI films, then I don't blame you. But 300 shows how it should be done. Having read a novelised version of the battle of Thermopylae (Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield), I kind of knew what to expect, without really expecting something so beyond normal classical epics.
This is a war film as it's supposed to be. Brutal, yet beautiful. Laden with symbolism. The genetically flawless Spartans fighting for freedom against the overwhelming army of barbarians and otherworldly demonic cretaures from the deepest, darkest corners of Asia. A religious tyranny that threatens to sweep the glimmers of democracy away. And all of it shaded by the looming deaths of the heroes, as if to be a hero is to stand your ground, and having done all you can, to stand. Death, not something to be feared, but something to be chosen joyfully, as only in choosing the place and means of death can a human master it.
Is this a war retold from the depths of antiquity with no relevance to the 21st Century? Of course not - it is recast in the light of the times in which we live and is all the more powerful for that. And the message is stark - those who would avoid war for political reasons are traitors. Those who would stand when all logic and reason compels them to kneel are heroes. And it's better to die a hero then live as a slave.
I found this movie inspiring and enthralling and would recommend it to everyone, as long as you don't mind a bit of gore and some relentless fighting. But that caveat aside this is the first film in a long, long time that I have wanted to watch again straight away.
Jongudmund's rating: 10/10