Shropshire Star

Film Talk: Looking Back – Muscle and blood with 300

“SPARTANS! What is YOUR profession?!” Even now it gives me goosebumps and a grin... here we go...

Gerard Butler leading the charge as Leonidas in Zack Snyder's 300

Based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, 2006’s 300 is quite simply one of the coolest and visually stunning comic-book flicks ever to grace the silver screen.

Centring around a fictionalised retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, the film was co-written and directed by Zack Snyder, while Miller served as executive producer and consultant.

With a talented cast including Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Michael Fassbender, David Wenham and Rodrigo Santoro, 300 brought its bloody tale of war between ancient Sparta and Persia to life in magnificent spectacle via being filmed mostly with a superimposition chroma key technique to replicate the imagery of the original comic book.

Slick, stylish and, well... hench, 300 ticked plenty of boxes for its success to be assured. But would it pull it off at the box office?..

In 480 BC, the Persian ‘God King’, Xerxes (Santoro), sends his massive army to conquer Greece. The Greek state of Sparta boasts the land’s finest fighters, and 300 of these soldiers, led by King Leonidas (Butler), are chosen to meet the Persians at Thermopylae. Here they will engage the invading soldiers in a narrow canyon where they cannot exploit the advantage of their immense numbers.

The battle will mean certain death for the Spartans, who with their blood will buy time for the rest of the Greek forces to prepare for the invasion. However, that doesn’t stop the 300 from giving it their all, determined to take as many Persians as possible with them and prove that even a ‘God King’ can bleed...

Highly praised for its visuals and style, 300 grossed over $456 million, and the flick’s opening was the 24th-largest in box office history at the time. Performances of many of the film’s stars – including Butler and Santoro – were rightly applauded. In particular, Lena Headey’s turn in the strong female role of Queen Gorgo was praised, and word of the performance reportedly attracted a large number of women to go and see the film.

As he has proven many times since with the likes of Watchmen, Man Of Steel, and of course, his cut of Justice League, when Zack Snyder gets involved in film projects based on comic-books, the results are generally pretty tip-top. It’s rather cool then to look back on 300 – his first comic-book flick – and see the genesis of some of the genius.

Aside from this, being packed with both action and rippling abdominals, there’s plenty in this flick for anyone to find a boat-load of visual entertainment in. If like me however, you have seen 300 near 300 times (and are looking for a similar fix that you can’t recite every line from backwards), a sequel titled Rise of an Empire – based on Frank Miller’s previously unpublished graphic novel prequel, Xerxes – was released in 2014.

Not quite as awesome as the original, but still packing a fair old punch, this yarn expands on the story – particularly with a look at the origin of Xerxes – and features a truly fantastic turn from Eva Green as a Persian powerhouse.

I don’t know about you, but I for one will take any route to get back into the world of 300. This isn’t just a movie after all... THIS. IS. SPARTA!

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