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Film Five Stars

There had indeed been much hype about the film beforehand. The trailers were looking stunning and the stills amazing. Style was at the fore of the posters and pictures and the trailers and clips we'd seen were suggesting much passion and posturing. It looked epic.

Then came the news of the Berlin Film Festival. There was a single report of booing and people leaving the cinema during the film. It seemed it might have been a misleading campaign. Then the next day the Warner Brothers release comes out and we find the film received a standing ovation at the end and applause during the film.

Who was right? The studio, or the slightly highbrow reviewer? I found out when I got to see the film early followed by an interesting Q&A; with Zack Snyder himself.

300.jpgSnyder introduced the film, and he really didn't have that much to say about it, apart from one clear message.

"I hope it's loud, it's much better when it's loud, it's distracting!"

I laughed, and at the same time wondered if there was some truth in that statement.

The film rolled and there was no sound. Suddenly, during the studio titles, the sound kicked in and Snyder's concerns were cleared. It was loud.

300 is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel which tells the story of the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, where the King of Sparta led three hundred of his soldiers against the might of the Persian armies. Vastly outnumbered they try to hold the wave upon wave of Persian attackers back and prevent from invading and enslaving their homeland, all the while the politics of their country keep the full army at home.

As soon as the film begins you can see the superb style, the colours, the effects of the skies, everything makes it look like a stylised comic, and it looks glorious. What I thought was more amazing was how little it intruded on the film. Perhaps that was because there was so much to see and, as Snyder had said, distract you from it, or perhaps you just become used to it early on, I'm not sure.

Whatever the cause, you do feel that the style is an integral part of the film, it doesn't detract or overbear at all, and that had been one of my earlier concerns.

It is fair to say the film looks superb, the visuals are amazing, not just the style but the framing of the shots, the choreography of the fights and set pieces, and the superb effect of speeding the film down and up during key moments.

Throughout the action sequences the camera will alter the speed of the film, so that one moment the enemy are tearing towards the Spartan in hordes at full speed, then it drops to slow motion as the Spartan engages an enemy and strikes his first blow. This continues through the fighting and is used to great effect. Never does it feel overused or out of place, and it's fair to say that for the audience the speed changes are spot on and perfectly used.

Combining these effects and styles together does give you the look of a comic book on screen. If there was a process to bring a comic to life, this is the right way to do it. Perhaps even the perfect way.

The action scenes are wild, amazingly conceived and choreographed. The battle sequences are stunning to watch and you do feel yourself pulled into the moment. A few times I would clench a fist and grit my teeth saying "yes!" or "get him" just at a key moment, and I knew I was into the film.

However it doesn't rest on the power of the action. Back in Sparta there are battles of power and politics, and a good performance from the stunning Lena Headey. The style is built through the scenes of the Spartan's Oracle and the scenes of hedonism in Xerxes' camp. In both beauty and ugliness entwine, and in the Oracle scenes the slow motion style is applied in equal measure as the battle to great effect.

This is another aspect of the film, its sexiness. Of course the pumped men in next to nothing will get the pulses racing, but it's much smoother than that and far less in your face. The scene of Leonidas making love to the Queen is superbly filmed and is far more real and touching than a lot of romantic Hollywood films, and yet it retains bags of sexuality. The Oracle scene is another where the sexiness of the film comes through and it looks almost art like in its depiction. These were beautiful moments.

It is a very well visualised, choreographed and scripted, but there are definitely a few moments where the script seems to slip away from the film. There are moments when the characters leap into modern phrases or slang after a strong build up and it seems to just take the pay off away from the scene. This happens a couple of times, most notably is the moment which is in the trailer where Leonidas says "we're in for one hell of a night" and we just went through a big build up with the stacking of the bodies of the enemy. In those moments the scene just falls flat.

However there are times when it works, and works well. It has the effect of lightening the moments before another onslaught of stylised action, one of the best examples of this is the apple scene where levity is mixed with the brutal actions of the Spartan men. It is funny, but it has the perfect tone and lends well to the pause in the action without killing the moment.

The acting throughout is superb and Gerard Butler really does pull out an excellent performance. Vincent Regan is another actor who provides a storming performance equal of Butler, but it is Butler who commands the screen whenever he appears.

I've heard a lot of comments that there's nothing more than shouting attack lines to the camera, and I have to wholeheartedly disagree, there are a lot of these moments, after all these are soldiers trained to kill and die a hero's death in battle. Yet there's a lot more to the performances than that. Butler and Regan pour passion onto the screen (and I don't just mean the six packs and leather pouches), but manage to do so in measure. There are scenes where you can see the fire inside them held back, waiting to burst out in the next battle, and it's these that are the most powerful moments.

Butler manages to capture some of the classic hero qualities and gives a performance that makes you feel like Kirk Douglas in Spartacus, or a classic Richard Burton role, he commands power and passion throughout the film.

There's a lot of heart in the Spartan characters and nowhere is it shown better than in these two actor's performances. It actually feels like the actors are having fun during the film, especially during the more campy moments.

Finally I feel that the sound needs a mention on its own. Not only does the soundtrack itself compliment the film superbly well, but the audio during the battle sequences is stirring and incredibly well created. It lends so much reality to the scenes and makes everything feel so much bigger and more epic.

It's very clear that Snyder has an amazing eye for directing, and this comes through with 300. It also shows that he can do more than put together a visually exciting scene, he can build a powerful narrative and pull together a compelling story. However a few times I did find his desire for levity a little too distracting from the story itself.

You do find yourself being caught up in the power and passion of the tale, and in the end I found myself feeling quite moved and impassioned by it all, the ending is particularly powerful and the whole film manages easily to convey the passion and belief of the Spartan's without making them dislikeable or too over the top.

So in conclusion, the reported Berlin booed screening seems like total fabrication to me and it couldn't have come from this film, ovations sound much more plausible, and yet there were a few missed moments in this film for me.

The power and struggle of the Queen back in Sparta seemed a bit too brief and the film could really have done without some of the modernised dialogue and camp moments. That said, the film is so exciting, and not just visually, that you can't help being taken in by it. Add the style and the powerful performances, and it is a great film.

I wish I had half marks on my scale. I was going to give this four out of five, but after writing the review and thinking of the film, it definitely deserves a five out of five, as I say if I had half marks it would be a four and a half.

Update: I'd just like to thank Gerard Butler Dot Net, Gerard Butler GALS, and Gerard Butler en espanol for being so gracious towards Filmstalker and my review. Ladies, you know who you are and thanks very much for the help today. If you want a Gerard Butler fan site or three, you can't go wrong with these ladies.

UK IMDB Film Details



I liked to read your review :) and just wanted to let you know - that there were standing ovations and a lot of applause also during the movie :)

As somebody who had the luck to get tickets for the premiere I could experience this myself :)

And yes the movie was stunning - and I'm looking forward to see it again.

Thanks barb_Vienna - I presume you mean ovations during the Berlin showing? I did think that the booing reports seemed slightly over the top.

The London screening which I attended had applause but not any ovations.

Butler manages to capture some of the classic hero qualities and gives a performance that makes you feel like Kirk Douglas in Spartacus, or a classic Richard Burton role, he commands power and passion throughout the film.

Now this comment really got me thinking. I have heard so much about Spartacus from friends who have been urging me to watch the film. I own the DVD but have yet to see it, I guess now on the basis of your observation this might just impel me to watch Spartacus first before heading off to see 300.

As posted to gb.net:

"I am so thrilled with this review, and NOT because it was a 5 (or 4 1/2 ) out of 5, although that was Certainly Icing On the Cake, but because it was thoughtful, intelligent, and multi-dimensional in its considerations. THAT was an actual "review" (as opposed to a knee-jerk opinion, or pre-conceived notion, or non-censored bias.) That reviewer earns his salary.

You know what strikes me about this review? I get the impression that the author really enjoys film. Really, really enjoys film as an artform, and enjoys his profession of analyzing it, even down to the appropriateness of camera angles (as any film worth its salt SHOULD be)!

*clears throat* Now, to binge on the icing....when THIS person lauds Gerry's performance, and calls it masterful, and compares Gerry's talent to some of the best in film history......IT MEANS SOMETHING!!!"

Ahh Susannah, welcome aboard! ;)

Hi Richard,

yes I were talking about the Premiere at the Berlinale 14.02.07. Sorry I haven't been clear before - but my mind was still at your wonderful review :). I watched the film twice. And it get again a lot of applause at the second showing in Berlin (15.02.07).

My highest compliment on your review - I read it again and I can only second that what was written at the gb.net post - it was intelligent and thoughtful done :)

another comprehensive review that will definitely see me getting tickets for the films first release date.

and, how the heck do you write such a detailed review without giving away spoilers? where are the smoke and mirrors??

You nailed it Pablo. I dunno how he does it. Interestingly this is what I have observed through the years, he writes a really good review - detailed and technical and all but dang, nothing was compromised with regards to plot. Just brilliant isnt it?

Okay I am off crawling you now Rich. ;)

Many thanks all, these are really lovely words and I hugely appreciate them. These comments are probably the biggest reason I love doing this, so many thanks for the feedback.

barb_Vienna - thanks, I wanted to clear that up, because I'm really confused about the so called booing at Berlin. I think fast being forgotten amid these superb reviews we're hearing about now.

Susannah - many thanks for the words on GB.net and here. I have to say that I was a bit concerned at first seeing my entire review and comments republished over at GB.net with just a little link through, but glad to see someone is popping through here to read it rather than on someone else's site.

Great review! I appreciated very much the fact that you gave your own thoughtful review and not rehashed someone else’s. Could the negative first review we saw describing boos and jeers and a group walking out before even seeing the film, have been a staged boycott and disruption due to political differences as seen in the press conference following the screening? With the almost unanimous good reviews after that, the press screening seems highly suspicious.

Gerard Butler has a mesmerizing screen presence drawing all eyes and attention to himself when he is onscreen How this man has not been discovered by “Hollywood” before now is unbelievable and “300” will surely change that. He is indeed of the caliber of Burton and Douglas and can hold his audience with only his eyes. (see Dear Frankie)

Richard - me I'm confused too about the booing in Berlin! Maybe it happened during the press-showing. I don't know as I haven't been there. But I'm really glad that the reaction of the audience during the premiere and the second showing (on the next day) were different.

And at the end that's what counts - that the people who go to the cinema like it :-)

Me I LOVE 300 - and I can't wait to see it again. Hopefully there will be a cinema in Vienna which shows a version which isn*t dubbed (as it mostly happens here).

I managed to get my hands on a double pass for an advanced screening last night. I liked it so much, I'll probably pay to see it again after the official release.

I rarely (if ever) see movies twice in theatres.

I've been avoiding any review on 300 because I simply want to go see it without any other opinions jogging around in my head, but I had to see what you thought of it. :)
I'm thrilled you liked it and I'm looking forward to taking some time out of my busy weekend to catch a viewing.

The movie, a technically wonderful picture as it may be, is based on not just a fictitious notion of history but on a categorically false account. It is depicting Xerxes and the Persian army as hedonistic monsters which is ironically enough actually the opposite of what history recounts. The whole book of Ezra in the old testament clearly speaks of Persian King Cyrus as the savior of Jews who liberated them from slavery and restored the Solomon temple back to it's glory. Purely scientific historical accounts also confirm the great culture and civilization of the Persian empire. I'm underimpressed that such a movie would stoop down to such falsehoods to tell a story which is based on a horrible lie as told by Frank Miller. It's in short no glory to demonize a historical icon of civilization at the cost of selling a movie.


Great review, much better than mine (which I just posted). :-)

I gave it 4 out of 5 due to the fact that I thought it lost some steam towards the end. Amazing cinematography, I have to say and I really enjoyed the battle scenes and the performances.


I was able to get out for a late matinee yesterday, and the movie was just as great as Richard says. The camp moments from the trailers were a bit disconcerting leading up, but they weren't as distracting to me in context as they were in the trailers. I was also concerned I had seen too much in trailers and clips, but there was much more to be had.

I don't care about overblown special effects. This movie was a really sick misrepresentation. That is probably what the boos were for. Even Greeks are upset about the way Persians are wrongly depicted in the movie.

Totally agree with the 5 stars. ;)

It is a proven scholarly fact that the Persian Empire in 480 B.C was the most magnificent and civilized empire. Established by the Cyrus the great, the writer of the first human right declaration, Persians ruled over significant portions of Greater Iran, the east modern Afghanistan and beyond into central Asia; in the north and west all of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), the upper Balkans peninsula (Thrace), and most of the Black Sea coastal regions; in the west and southwest the territories of modern Iraq, northern Saudi-Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, all significant population centers of ancient Egypt and as far west as portions of Libya. Having twenty nations under control, encompassing approximately 7.5 million square kilometers, unquestionably the Achaemenid Empire was territorially the largest empire of classical antiquity.

Based on the Zoroastrian doctrine, it was the strong emphasis on honesty and integrity that gave the ancient Persians credibility to rule the world, even in the eyes of the people belonging to the conquered nations (Herodotus, mid 5th century B.C). Truth for the sake of truth, was the universal motto and the very core of the Persian culture that was followed not only by the great kings, but even the ordinary Persians made it a point to adhere to this code of conduct.

We did not expect Warner Bros. Picture company, as one of the world's largest producers of film and television entertainment to ignore the proven obvious historical facts, and damage its own reputation by showing the Persian army at the battle of Thermopylae as some monstrous savages, and thus create an atmosphere of public mistrust in its content, and hurt the national pride of the millions of Persians while doing so.

While announcing our disgust at such a heresy, we demand an immediate historical review and quick apology from the responsible people.

"We did not expect Warner Bros. Picture company, as one of the world's largest producers of film and television entertainment to ignore the proven obvious historical facts, and damage its own reputation by showing the Persian army at the battle of Thermopylae as some monstrous savages, and thus create an atmosphere of public mistrust in its content, and hurt the national pride of the millions of Persians while doing so."

Why not? The fictional book on which the fictional film is heavily based shows the exact same fictional story.

LOL @ Richard. I have never seen you use the word fiction that many times in one sentence!

I believe the booing was from a few critics at the press screening where some of them actually walked out during the film. It seems very odd and unprofessional since they are there to do a job, not act like a bunch of adolescents. I think it had to do with what they determined was a parallel with what is happening right now in the middle east. The ovation came from the public screening in which 1700 people attended who very clearly enjoyed the film.

The screenplay of this movie is inexact given that it is based on the a legend recorded by Persian’s enemy, the Greeks. In each conflict, there are at least two sides and for being impartial, one should scrutinize the tale from both sides. We all know of the temporary historians when they look into all the resources on hand on one topic for getting into the mind of people living in their time. In the case of battle of Thermopylae, all the accounts made by the Persians were destroyed and burned down (many thanks to Mr. Alexander the great and Arabs later on). Particularly Arabs burned down any records or manuscripts in Persian Language during their occupation with the intention of modify the official Persian Language of country to Arabic. Accordingly, how can the script of the movie "300" about the sequence of events and Persians who fought this battle be consistent if the only source is Greek texts? Always remember; those who are weak try to show themselves as superiors by humiliating the strong.

Exactly Mehrdad, good advice. Heed it well.

I know where I'll be come Mar 23. I could of taken a day off, but I'll just finish early.

I'm seeing it again and I can't wait! *swoons*

I cant wait for 300 to come out in the UK, does anyone have any idea when this will be?

It's out this Friday Anna.

this movie ....TRASH. 1-sided,historically INACCURATE. TOO much homosexuality(weirdass spartans). THe Persians werent homo's so i dont know why the director portrays the PErsian King as a flamer. The Spartans were they gays.Get it right. The Greeks named this PErsian king as being of High Honour...and thats a Historical fact.In the movie, he's souless,clumsy,approves slavery(which the Persian king didnt stand up for). HE even started the beginning of human rights for ppl,but obviously americans arent gonna show Irans looking humaine. Of course not. This movie was a racial and ethnic attack on middle east ppl. This movie has its visual scenes,but it doesnt justify the racist ideaology the director presents.WHich he should have known better to be more descrete.In the end this was a Garbage movie. I repeat...GARBAGE.

angry viewer,everyone is entitled to there own opinion,but you my friend are an arsehole.

i am a history major, and ive studied the story of the wars between greece and persia. personally i think this is a movie that only potrays one side of the story. the persians were not as unjust and inhumaine as the movie makes out it to be. i can understand why persians would be angry at this movie.

this movie is inconsiderate and outrages. and it can kiss mi middle eastern ass

hey guys,
yeh this is a good movie
but i can understand why so many have been
so offended by it.

how we would we as americans react if there was a movie
made about us, that made us look unjust and like animals.

this is how the persians are potrayed in this movie.

the directer didnt think about the impact this movie would give to the persian people.

i have this persian friend and for her she cops enough racism . any country in the middle east is automatticaly linked to being a terriost of some sort so its hard enough for them as it is . now this movie has made it even harder for her.


I am iranian but usually when somebody asks me what nationality i am i say"persian" because iran now isnt that great of a country because of the people who rule & control it, just knowing how Powerful, Strong & Highly decent/Resectful persia was makes me proud to say that "I am Persian"! $evAh. Racism is a huge problem in australia(where i live&have; lived for a long time), now that this FREAK OF NATURE..NOT NATURE,'Franke Miller' asshole has made this stupid movie, it is going to make persian look like PURE SHIT even though we're not like the way the persians acted in this movie. In australia not everyone is racist but there is racism just like all teh other counrties in the wrold. Why ive been so effended by thismovie is because all my life ive been defending the persia &telling; people about how good we are & use 2 be as well, but because of this shit movie, everything ive proved to people is just all gone.

yeh iran now days isnt great. its got rulers that have mad the country crap. but us as persians had one thing that we were proud of. OUR HISTORY. and now this one movie has made everyone think different of us.

If i persoaally see this [The world needs less people who threaten to kill others and resolve issues through violence! - Richard]
this world needs less people like him!

what a film, i loved every minute of it, but i have got to say, why are all these people keep going on about how the film makes the persian people look bad, come on people its a film for god sake!!!!!!! if you dont like the film, then its simple, dont go and watch it, seems everything these days comes down to racism, these people are sad and have nothing else to do apart from finding faults,and to be quiet honest, doesnt make me look at anyone any different than before, great film and must be seen,

ok it was good, but how can you give quantum of solace 2 stars, and a CGI-fest 5 stars?

btw, for the "Persians" out there, maybe you could realize that the metaphor for the Persians in the movie is a comparison to modern day U.S., for perhaps any and all dictators in history? think before you write

How can I do that? Easily. Quantum of Solace has been hacked to death in both story and action.

300 was a superbly crafted film that used CGI to build great backdrops and give a great feeling to the film. The story was paramount with the action choreographed as well as a dance, the camera pulled back the editing kept strong.

Comparison is easy. 300 was enjoyable and exciting, and you could follow it. Quantum of Solace was a mess that dumped story for shiny, flashy, overly fast and close cropped action.

I know which I prefer.



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