DVD Review: 300 (Two-Disc Special Edition)
By Jeff Swindoll Jul 29, 2007, 14:30 GMT
The epic graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City) assaults the screen with the blood, thunder and awe of its ferocious visual style faithfully recreated in an intense blend of live-action and CGI animation. Retelling the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, it depicts the titanic clash in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his massive Persian army. Experience history at ...more
Director Zack Snyder adapts Frank Miller’s graphic novel for the big screen. If you’re expecting historical accuracy then you’re watching the wrong movie. If you’re expecting a bloody, stylized battle then you’re watching the right movie.
What the back of the box says:
“The epic graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City) assaults the screen with the blood, thunder and awe of its ferocious visual style faithfully recreated in an intense blend of live-action and CGI animation. Retelling the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, it depicts the titanic clash in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his massive Persian army. Experience history at sword point. And moviemaking with a cutting edge.”
The Persian king sends messengers to Sparta to demand their fidelity and subservience. Instead of succumbing to those demands, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) drops the messengers down a well. This action basically guarantees war. However, the priests will not allow Leonidas to have the full Spartan army battle during a religious festival. To get around the orders of the priests, Leonidas decides to go on a stroll and take 300 of his “bodyguards” with him.
His plan is to take the 300 to an area known as the “Hot Gates,” a narrow pass that the Persians will have to pass through to attack Sparta. Meanwhile back in Sparta, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) has to convince the Spartan senate to send reinforcements to keep this small force from being slaughtered.
First thing you should know is that this film is based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel. He was inspired by the 1962 film the 300 Spartans as a youth and was his first exposure to heroism that came with a price. Miller says about a scene with the young Leonidas battling a vicious wolf “I made it all up outa whole cloth – because I cheat.” In other words, it was his work and he can take dramatic license if he sees fit.
So those expecting historical accuracy will be picking the film apart. Since director Zack Snyder was basically making a film version of Miller’s work then those dramatic licenses make the jump to the big screen. The tale of Thermopylae is basically a story told to inspire the Spartans into battle so there’s also a certain amount of exaggeration and mythology on the part of the storyteller and that’s used to great effect in the film.
I highly doubt that Xerxes was over 8 feet tall, but the teller exaggerates his height to make Leonidas’ bravery and persistence seem all the more better. The film is a very stylized version of Miller’s vision and to expect that it’s anywhere close to being historically accurate is going to be folly.
The film is a rousing version of Miller’s work and those that enjoyed that adaptation should be thrilled to see it translated to the big screen. I thought that the film was a grand experience, but I wasn’t looking to any sort of historical accuracy (and you shouldn’t either if you’re going to enjoy the visuals and situations).
300 is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. A fullscreen version is also available separately. 300 is available in those two single disc versions as well as a more complex two-disc edition.
The single disc versions only have a commentary by director Zack Snyder, screenwriter Kurt Johnstad, and director of photography Larry Fong.
The two-disc version adds a second disc of special features. Disc 2 includes the 24 minute “The 300: Fact or Fiction?” that explores the history behind the story. It has interviews with author/historian Dr. Victor Hanson, director Zack Snyder, novelist/executive producer Frank Miller, author/historian Bettany Hughes, and Gerard Butler.
The 4 minute “Who were the Spartans?: The Warriors of 300” examines how the Spartans are portrayed. It adds interviews with Rodrigo Santord (“Xerxes”) and David Wenhem (“Dilios”). The 14-minute “Frank Miller Tapes” is unfiltered conversations with Miller and his friends. It has interviews with Miller, president/publisher of DC Comics Paul Levitz, comic book creator Neal Adams, and group editor of DC Comics Bob Schreck, as well as participants from the other documentaries.
The 5 minute (sadly) “Making of 300” has some behind the scenes footage and interviews with Lena Headey, screenwriter Kurt Johnstad, visual effects supervisor Chris Watts, Spartan trainer Mark Twight. The 3-minute “Making 300 in Images” gathers lots of on set photographs together.
There are also 3 minutes of deleted scenes with introductions by director Snyder. Finally there are 38 minutes of “Webisodes” that delve into the production of the film.
I thought that 300 was quite the film the spectacle and is an inspiring film that brings Miller’s novel to the screen.
300 (Two-Disc Special Edition) is now available at Amazon. It is available for pre-order at AmazonUK for a Sept. 17th release. Visit the DVD database for more information. Click Here to enter to win a copy of the single disc version of the DVD.