300

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  • Action & adventure

Military historians, armchair generals and dudes who airbrush murals on Chevy vans have a soft spot for the Battle of Thermopylae, in which King Leonidas (Butler) led 300 Spartans against the entire Persian army in 480 B.C. For comic-book writer-artist Frank Miller, the legendary suicide mission served as a starting point for an ambitious story about the notion of empire; for director Zack Snyder (2004’s Dawn of the Dead), it was apparently the chance to choreograph gold-tinted scenes of buff men lopping off limbs in slow motion. Snyder’s hyperstylized adaptation of Miller’s graphic novel does successfully portray Leonidas’ last stand as an epic case of sword-and-sandal ’roid rage. As to this pumped-up spectacle’s other aims, it’s anybody’s guess: selling gladiatorial chest-beating as beefcake erotica? Combining a movie and its own video-game spin-off into one package? Being both a dessert topping and a floor wax?One thing this swollen, eye-rolling beast isn’t, alas, is an interesting interpretation of Miller’s work. Like Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City, Snyder’s film scrupulously replicates the artist’s baroque, kinetic drawings but drains them of their power; dialogue that’s barely passable on the page (“Only Spartan women give birth to real men!”) becomes bona fide Gouda onscreen. Worse, the historical event comes on like a Hannity & Colmes argument, squeaking out a muffled antiwar comment while a neocon fantasia of military might roars with volume and fury. A fun-sapped maelstrom without meaning, 300 simply pummels you with endless loops of battle-porn. While you couldn’t classify the movie as entertainment, it might have a long, prosperous future as a Clockwork Orange–style Ludovico Technique.

Release details

Cast and crew

Director: Zack Snyder
Screenwriter: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Michael B Gordon
Cast: Gerard Butler
Lena Heady
Dominic West
David Wenham
Vincent Regan
Michael Fassbender
Tom Wisdom
Andrew Pleavin
Andrew Tiernan
Rodrigo Santoro
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