I saw 300 on Wednesday night after a most hearty dinner at Ristorante Machiavelli. I had only watched the trailer a few weeks ago; that it was based on a Frank Miller novel piqued my interest. Before I proceed, I'd like to say that I like ancient history; stories extolling the exploits of the Greeks and Romans give me goose bumps. A heady mix of valour, honour, and the epic canvases - go figure why I like such stuff.
300 is a guy's movie all the way, an adrenaline rush from the get go. The movie starts with the story of a young Spartan boy fighting with this father in the foyer of his house. The dad treats his young adversary with respect as he teaches him the subtle aspects of warfare, of the importance of having no mercy. Like other Spartan boys, this boy, Leonidas, is sent to warrior training, which is a Spartan boy's right of passage before he becomes a man. Upon his return, he is crowned King of Sparta, and it is his battle against Xerxes that is the subject of this movie.
The usual suspects make an appearance: the movie has its fair share of motivational speeches and there is enough gore to make those with weak stomachs throw up. The battle scenes, shot in gratuitous slow-mo, are ridic! The fountains of red blood spouting out of ever slain soldier seem to come right at you, with the screen acting as your shield. (Tarantino's work in Kill Bill is going to haunt movie-goers for years to come.) The screenplay has borrowed elements from other movies in its genre - the hunchback guy bears striking resemblance to Gollum; Leonidas is very much like Russell Crowe in Gladiator; the council of elders look like Orcs :); all the pieces fit well together and that's all that matters. As they say, imitation is the best form of flattery. 300 pays homage to past works in its genre, and dare I say, does them proud.
Leonidas and his battalion of 300 "body-guards" know at the outset that they are fighting a losing battle. They are up against a humongous army (the Persians); a juggernaut that had rolled over the rest of Eurasia. Their bravery, and the fact that they hold this unassailable army for a few days inspires the rest of Greece to come to their rescue and fight Xerxes. I am not one to draw parallels to the modern day but as I see it, Xerxes's army is a metaphor for the iPod Juggernaut. Can the plucky upstart, Zune, hold the juggernaut at bay? Upstage it even?