Saturday, 23 October 2010

300 (Zack Snyder, 2007)

300 is hopefully the purest distillation of that 21st century cinema spectacle, the "CGI armies colliding" film that filmgoers will ever see. Lovingly recreating Frank Miller's not-particularly historical comic, Zack Snyder has delivered a quite hysterically over-the-top and ludicrously macho piece of celluloid gristle.

Let it be said, there are no characters in this film whatsoever. There is a beard. There are a couple of hundred six-packs, some breasts and some black skin. These items roll around on screen in assorted combinations for two hours and then it's over. What have we learned at the end? God knows. That a warrior race which kills imperfect newborn babies and feeds its young to hungry wolves can champion logic, learning, female empowerment, enlightenment, free will and numerous exciting sexual positions, apparently.

Even without thinking about things, 300 is a drag. The action centres upon the titanic Persian army and its repeated attempts to break the Spartan barricade and overwhelm them. As such every single action scene consists of the same elements. The limitations of basing a film around a series of identical beach skirmishes, and their uncreative handling soon becomes all too obvious. The film tries to disguise the repetition by changing the colour of the camera filter, having different uniforms and adding Elephants and mutants - but that's all it can do. After the initial amazement has worn off, what's left is boring. The climax is boring. Viewers will yawn at the end, not cheer.

As a purely vapid, empty spectacle 300 succeeds beyond all measure. Intermittently and undoubtedly spectacular it makes for a great cutscene or tech demo, although the heavy saturation and obvious blue-screening robs proceedings of any grit, physicality or sense of location. Likewise the seeming lack of any human touch makes it hard to care about anything, or anyone on screen.

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