I can't think of a movie I have anticipated seeing as much as 300 in quite some time. I was hopeful, and anxious that 300 would present the important historical truth of this infamous battle. The battle of Thermopylae with Greek Spartan King Leonidas and his 300 Spartan warriors alongside various other Greek city state warriors against the great Persian army led by King Xerxes is considered by many historians as quite possibly the most important battle ever fought. Without it the future of Western Civilization would likely have never existed. The true story is an incredible story that needs little or no exaggeration. Before the Alamo there was Thermopylae and this battle inspired Spartans and Greeks to unite and had an influence that changed history as we know it. Happening some 500 years before the birth of Jesus Christ many have said that the teachings of Jesus and others would not have been possible without this battle. In fact, some say it was obvious that in the great plan of civilization, that even God was with King Leonidas as to bring about the downfall of the Persian empire, and the birth of free thought.
As much as I anticipated this movie, I left the theater feeling betrayed. While many critics are hailing this picture for its unique method of film making, I couldn't help but be disappointed in the lack of story, and the revision of actual events. The sad truth is the actual story of the battle of Thermopylae and King Leonidas would have made a grand story and film experience. I would go so far as to say that if the film would have stayed closer to the historical event, including the naval battles that supported the land battle this wouldn't have just been a film using new techniques it would have been a modern epic that would have lasted for years and considered a film classic. While 300 touches on some of the actual events that occurred, there is little explanation, and unless a student of history it is easy to get lost. This is sad especially when having an understanding of the actual importance of some of the characters in the story including oracles and King Leonidas response to the oracles and individuals who served in the same efforts. In fact when it comes to the story of the oracles and how the Spartans were called into the battle the fictional accounting in the movie is totally off base and not nearly as thrilling and exciting as the real story.
I wish I could say better things about this movie, but unfortunately I felt like I just wasted 2 hours of my time watching a blood bath on screen along with glimpses of sex and nudity that had little if any bearing to the real story. I don't recall ever seeing so many blood splatters and decapitations in a film. Realize I make this comment as a fan of the horror genera but even the splattering of blood on almost every frame was not realistic. I don't know why I would expect this though as the movie also incorporated grotesque creatures and characters that resembled fantasy as opposed to reality. I have no problem with this if creating a fantasy film, but when presenting the movie as if it were the way the actual events happened I have issue, especially when the story is so choppy, and flows so poorly leaving the viewer as a simple spectator to the violence we see acted out on screen. At this point, the film doesn't try to sell anything other than the violence we see. I had just finished watching the documentary This Film Not Yet Rated, and I have to tell you, I would personally like to know why this film did not receive a NC-17 Rating. It was that bad!
The story of 300 and the battle of the Greeks and Persians needs to be told because of the importance to Western Civilization. Unlike Troy, or even others that touch on this era, 300 left me bored and disappointed. Virtually every patron in the movie left the theater immediately as the credits started to role. While few people seldom stay, I was shocked that for the first time at a movie, no one stayed. There are great cinematic aspects to the movie, but when spending that much money on special effects, it seems as if it would be easy to insist on a better script.
There are elements to this story we all need to appreciate. The incredible sacrifice of these men to stand up for their country, their ideals and principles, despite how selfish they may have been is worth being told. The strategy of warfare, and the lessons learned from this battle as has been studied my military personnel for centuries would help many understand battles and effort many in the military put on the battles they are engaged in. There are also historical aspects of Western Civilization that could have been discussed, such as the early Greeks, especially the Spartans approach to the individual need to serve society, as opposed to society serving the individual. The illustrations and discussions could have come about by investigating the mindset of those who created methods of thought that influenced the world.
I could go on about 300 but as much as I hate to admit it, I would encourage those wanting to see it to wait until it comes out on DVD. Why? Simply put, I say this not to see the movie, but to see the History Channel feature on the battle that will likely be on the special features section. Now this story, this history is fascinating and educational. It is also entertaining. I would recommend, if you want to get something out of 300, to understand any of the deeper concepts of the era to at least watch the History Channel documentary before spending your money on a theater ticket. If it wasn't for some of my own knowledge of the era, and my own viewing of the documentary before seeing the movie, my final rating would be much worse. That may be hard to accept, especially when understanding:
On a scale of 1 - 10, for the price of admission, $7, minus the 3 for 300 I give a very disappointing 4.
Official Trailer for the Movie 300
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