300 (Yahoo! Movies / Wikipedia)
My Rating: Overall – A (Outstanding); and this deserves a mention, I never give it separately, Visual Effects – A+ (Oscar-worthy)
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Cast: Gerard Butler, Lena Heady, Rodrigo Santoros
Visual effects by: Hybride, Animal Logic, Hydraulx, Pixel Magic, Scanline
For a movie with a funny name and a gory story, the movie opened to a packed theatre. Or maybe it was just that DPS RKP students came to chill out and bought the first ticket they got after their exam got over. Whatever it was, my movie viewing experience started on a bad note. The movie started, they had technical problems, with the crappy Hindi music not budging to the movie soundtrack, and the Spartan visuals being overlayed with the fire exit plan with a big PVR logo bang on the Warner Bros logo. Those problems came back at the end too, when in the last few minutes, the hall turned into a disco with the lights coming on and off.
300 movie trailer
The movie is based has been adapted from Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same, who was inspired by the 1962 flick The 300 Spartans, which in turn was inspired, by the real story of the Battle of Thermopylae. The first few minutes will make it clear – there’s still time to go back home to watch Tom & Jerry. The Spartan way of life, sending kids to train to fight maybe the only scenes shot at any actual location (and I doubt that too), for after that, the whole movie is computer-generated eye-candy. Actual shooting was done against a blue backdrop for two months starting in October 2005, and then, the whole of 2006 went to computer animation. And no, unlike any critics saying, it does NOT look like a video game, it’s the most realistic animation till date you’ll come across.
Contrary to what has been said, the movie does NOT lack a storyline – the only thing is that it has open end, which I think Warner Bros might have kept to plan any sequels. The dialogs too, are amazing. The other thing, sorry to shatter your perverted dreams, is that you won’t find ‘many nude women’ and other trash the critics said – all those parts COMBINED is no more than a minute. The ‘beasts’ they refer to is simply lifted from the dialogs – they refer to nothing more than rhinos and elephants, which yes, to the Spartans would have been ‘beasts from hell’. I like how the narration was made to fit their viewpoint – referring to gunpowder grenades as ‘magic’. Also, talk of this being an USA vs Iran depiction is balderdash. People who say the Persian empire has been disgraced or the Greeks are too noble are morons who’ve never seen the movie – in fact, the story also shows how aspects of Greek culture were shady and despicable, including how weak minded the Council was, and the treachery of some councilors.
Coming to the music. Oh boy is Rach gonna like this! The orchestrations by Timothy Williams IV are standard stuff, the sort of soundtrack which melts into the background and which only people who sit with their eyes closed in the theatre (like Rach) care to hear. Nopes, I’m gonna applaud Wolfgang Matthes, the electronic score composer for a really innovative soundtrack. And yes, scores made on synthesizer turned out to be better, it gelled in well the battle scenes, complimenting the fight between two powerful armies perfectly. Oh, and for all rock fans, they even used Just Like You Imagined by the Nine Inch Nails in the trailers.
I won’t reveal much about the story, but I need to devote a whole section now to the visuals. What sets 300 apart is not the acting – it’s all basically Gerard Butler as King Leonidas who has any part (rest is mostly CG); and it’s not the battle scenes or fight sequences – there have been other award-winning movies like Lord of the Rings and Gladiator, but they won on their story, their battle scenes are outstripped by that of 300. A LOT of the movie is in slow motion (it’d probably be 30 minutes shorter if you play the whole thing at normal speed, and that’s in a movie which runs for 1 hour 56 minutes), but the way the slow motion, fast action, and normal speed have been merged into each other shows the amazing editing capability. Here’s how other do their battle scenes – dress loads of extras wearing jeans in cheap battle gear (so that the people at MovieMistakes.com have a field time – 300 has ONLY 4 errors so far, and that’s really amazing comapred to other major movies whose run into 100s), and make them run into each other, clash a few swords, and keep the camera angles crazy so that nobody can figure out who’s winning. 300 keeps an uncluttered look, you can see who’s fighting whom. It’s so beautiful that it almost seems a like a ballet sequence; the fight choreographer(s?) did one helluva job. The blood splatter all around, the slow motion jabs of swords and spears, Persian ships dotting the whole visible sea (that scene seemed lifted from Troy, after all, that’s a Warner Bros movie too), and beheaded bodies falling in slow motion – all that is SO touching. Then there are other scenes that can only be done CG – like blotting out the sun with arrows, a ‘tree’ made out of bodies of dead women and children, a ‘wall’ made of the dead bodies of Persians – they look SO life-like! My personal fave though from the movie – the blood splatter, it looks like an actual battle scene, and not like others (shame, even LOTR), where somebody jabs a sword in, and they make an awkward face clutching their tummy for 30 seconds before falling down.
In case you’re thinking this is just another gory war movie, it is, and a lot more. Despite what all have been saying, it has a nice storyline. The way they show a delusional Xerxes who thinks he’s a god, how others think he’s a god, the grit and the hardships the 300 Spartans face, and how Greek unites for democracy is something worth watching. 300 has been declared as the first blockbuster of 2007, and if not for anything else, any movie buff MUST watch this for its stunning visual effects. CG animation has finally earned itself some respect with 300.