Movie Review: Zach Snyder’s ‘300’ glossy, mindless, and just about perfect

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Zach Snyder’s 300 is a near-masterpiece that ignores all reasonable aspects of storytelling, such as, say, plot or character development, but nonetheless perfectly achieves what it set out to provide: glossy, highly stylized, mindless entertainment.

There´s an art to the artlessness here, and it´s wondrous to behold: everything looks perfect – any flaws appear to have been airbrushed from the landscapes and actors; even the lepers look like they might have stepped out of GQ. Admittedly, not for all tastes; some may find this a nice advertisement but will be left waiting for the actual film.

As the God-King Xerxes’ Persian empire is about invade Greece, Spartan King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) attempts to form an army to combat them. When the corrupted ‘elders´ of Sparta deny him, he takes 300 of his best soldiers “for a stroll” to Thermopylae to meet Xerxes’ forces upon arrival.

The rest of the film is mostly a lengthy, multi-structured, beautifully choreographed and gloriously violent battle, with occasional scenes back at Sparta as Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) attempts to drum up support for her husband´s forces.

Butler is a revelation as King Leonidas, creating an unforgettable character – the only memorable one in the movie – that shall remain an icon of perverted heroism. Lack of story or plot results in a focus on cinematography, style, and energy; we also get to savor ridiculously corny and anachronistic one-liners that haven´t been uttered since 80´s Schwarzenegger flicks.

Only flaw: overbearing and mostly unnecessary narration, which does little but distract us from the visuals. Otherwise, it´s perfect – the ultimate testosterone-fueled male fantasy.

All that´s missing from this exercise in glossy excess is hardcore pornography.

300

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Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.