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Published March 8, 2007 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Bros.
300 Poster 300
300 may have the most awesome battle scenes ever filmed with sights you've never seen before. It may even be the best historical war movie since Braveheart. But it still just left me feeling "eh."

Movie Review: 300

King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) defies the sages of ancient Sparta and takes 300 men to fend off an invading Persian force of thousands. They use strategic techniques to turn the tables on an increasingly outlandish array of villains.

It really is amazing how they place their small numbers in such a way to totally kick the Persians' ass. Fights against giants and massive animals require an agility worthy of Jackie Chan.

Still, the best concepts are way too brief. They take out the elephants and rhinos fairly quickly. You're really making us wait through all the generic clanking for one shot of a falling beast?

The slow motion gets old very fast. Not every kill shot is an artistic ballet of death. And the blood sprays, I get it that they're brutal warriors, and to realistically portray their battles requires some gore, but the CGI spray looked the same in every case. What's informative about that?

Actually, the last battle scene is really anticlimactic. Not because of what happens in it, but just because we've seen so many more stunning scenes before it, the last one is like, "That's it? After all that?"

But I'll give them the battle scenes. It's all the talking they do in between. Come on already. Why did we need to spend time hearing the mystics advise against battle when he's going to do it anyway? I liked the oracle's nipple dance as much as any dude, but it's just filling time.

I know there has to be some historical context or it's gratuitous, but I want the gratuitous fighting. Every time they confront a Persian general or give pep talks amongst their own ranks, it's all just proselytizing about their political positions and brotherhood in war. Standing up for what's right is fine, but we get it. Persians, oppressive, Spartans, cool badasses with hot wives who should be saved.

Obviously, I'm being very condescending about important issues. That's because no matter what they say, 300 is a film about bloody battle scenes with a cool new visual style. After a certain point, I'm not buying any moral agenda and the more they push it, the less believable it is.

300 is clearly ambitious and succeeds on the visual and visceral levels that are its priority. But it has a lot of space to fill in between and that's where it kind of falls apart. I'll be in the minority on this, but I just saw a film where 300 guys stood up to an army of thousands, so I'm feeling bold.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Warner Bros.

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