300 (Full Screen Single Disc Edition) (2007)

Actors: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West, David Wenham, Vincent Regan
Zack Snyder
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs:
Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: July 31, 2007
Run Time:
116 minutes



You wouldn't have guessed it from watching the movie, but 300 is actually based on a real historical battle.

The film tells the true story of how 300 elite Spartan warriors led by their fearless king Leonidas (Gerard Butler) thwarted the charge of Xerxes and his massive Persian army at the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Facing insurmountable odds, their velour and sacrifice inspired all of Greece to unite against their Persian foe, leading to the origins of democracy.

Critics who unfavorably compared 300 to epics such as Ben Hur and Gladiator missed the point: 300 has more in common with fantasy movies like Lord of the Rings than anything else as it chooses to be an adaptation of Frank Miller's epic graphic novel of the same name rather than any stodgy history book.

So forget any notions of historical accuracy - or even physical reality for that matter: 300 has all the realism of a PlayStation game. Practically the entire film was shot in a studio, utilizing green screen backgrounds into which hyper-real renderings similar to Miller's own graphically stylized illustrations were added in post-production. The computer game analogy is particularly apt as the net effect of watching 300 is often similar to watching someone else playing such a game.

This is however not a bad thing: as one critic remarked, 300 isn't so much an adaptation as an interpretation of Miller's comic book stylings. The net effect can be breathtaking at times. This is a movie that has no ambition beyond merely wanting to be a visceral thrill ride. Sure, that doesn't make it much different than most of the action or sci-fi efforts cluttering the multiplexes, except that 300 actually succeed in being that thrill ride. The movie is exciting to watch, the action scenes of bloody hand-to-hand battle leaving a silly grin on one's face.

Make no mistake though: 300 is pretty violent and bloody, and while the violence isn't of the throw up in your popcorn variety of horror movies like Hostel (it is much too stylized for that) squeamish viewers would want to give this one a skip.

THE DISC: If you're a movie buff type then this probably isn't the disc you would buy. It is the single disc, full screen edition which means that the sides of the image have been cropped off so as to fit a standard-sized TV screen. Normally this would be an issue, but this is such a visceral movie, that zooming in on the image gives the action an immediacy that would be lacking if there were black bars at the top and bottom of your TV screen. Still, if you a widescreen TV then one of this would matter.

Extras are limited to a whole bunch of trailers and related ads for the movie game and soundtrack amongst others that plays before reaching the menu screen. You have French and Spanish dubs. The audio commentary by director Zack Snyder (whose previous movie was the excellent Dawn of the Dead remake), screenwriter Kurt Johnstad and director of photography Larry Fong is punctuated by awkward silences and seldom delivers on the sort of info one would be interested in. How historically accurate is it? (Snatches of the dialogue are actually 100% historically correct.) What is it that attracted them to the material in the first place? Instead they spent of lot of time going "this is CG," uhm, "this isn't" and so on.

WORTH IT? Checking out the widescreen two-disc version of this movie is probably a much better bet.

RECOMMENDATION: This is unfortunately the sort of movie that loses much in the translation from the big screen to DVD. Let's face up to it: if you haven't seen 300 on the big screen during its theatrical release, then haven't seen the movie as it was intended at all. Make sure you see it on the biggest home theatre screen with the loudest audio set-up you can find. This isn't an intimate drama suited to the confines of your television screen, this is the sort of disc you buy to impress friends with your latest state-of-the-art home theatre system.



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