Ridiculously late Reviews: 300

Director: Zack Snyder (2006)
Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Michael Fassbender, Dominic West
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

In Abdomens: The Movie, Gerard Butler plays the King of a nation of Abdomens, who call themselves ‘Spartans’. As an impossibly tough voiceover (later delivered by a chappy with a face several degrees too soft) informs us, the Spartans are so tough that they throw all their deformed or weak babies off’ve clifftops. They’re bred to be super-hard, super-angry and super-stubborn. We watch as King Abs is born, doesn’t get thrown off’ve a cliff and kills a CGI wolf with a spear.

Some years later, King Abs (occasionally known as Leonidas) has grown a beard and is still an angry bastich. He has a son now, and is married to Sarah Connor Lena Headey. But because characterisation is for wimps, we get straight to the plot. And by plot, I mean killing. A Persian messenger shows up in King Abs’ city and tells him that King Xerxes is intent on ruling the world. And that Abs and the Spartans need to fall into line. The Spartans, it quickly becomes apparent, bow to no-one. King Abs kicks the messenger down a hole and declares war. He takes 300 of his best warriors and heads off to war.
300 is an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller. But, because this review is four years late, you already knew that. This being (modern) Frank Miller, expect lots of machismo, bad female characterisation and bucketloads of violence. Once more, Miller romanticises violence and makes heroes of the knuckleheaded Spartans. There’s not a likeable character in the whole movie. There’s only one fella (Dominic West) who suggests diplomacy and, y’know, not acting like a tosser; and he’s revealed to be a rapist and a traitor. A bit like Superman in The Dark Knight Returns, but more obviously rapey.

This isn’t meant to be a bad review, since 300 is actually a pretty entertaining movie. It’s just that there isn’t much on offer other than silly macho idiots and six-packs. It’s like an inspirational film for the likes of Ross Kemp, lager-louts and bodybuilders.

It's an easy movie to mock; but that's kinda missing the point (besides, Meet the Spartans got there first - and look how that turned out). Sure, it's daft; unashamedly so. The homoeroticism is at unbelievably high levels, occasionally hand in hand with a bit of casual homophobia - and there are plenty of comparisons to be made to modern warfare and politics, should you be looking for that sort of thing. It's like the Iraq war, only Saddam's wearing more jewellery and George Bush has a six-pack.

Those looking for subtlety will be greatly disappointed with - and probably a bit angered by - 300. Everyone else should just enjoy it for what it is; a movie in which ridiculously buff blokes chop up ridiculously effeminate blokes and drop elephants off've cliffs. 300 is a movie which more or less defies criticism. Like the Spartans themselves, 300 revels in its own boneheadedness.

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