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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

300

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Judy Thorburn

"300" - The Magnificent 7 Plus 293

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"300" THE MAGNIFICENT 7 PLUS 293

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

Who knew that a movie about an ancient battle could be such a turn on for women? As much as I loved this movie for everything else it has to offer, speaking as a heterosexual female, I truly enjoyed the exhibition of buffed up male warriors with six pack abs, parading around in little more than knee high leather boots and skimpy leather bikini briefs, and oh yes, a requisite spear and shield as armor. There was so much smoldering testosterone on display that my eyeglasses steamed up, never mind the temperature in the theatre rising by the minute, or so it seemed.

At the forefront is Gerard Butler, a talented, and yes, handsome actor I have been a huge fan of since the first time I saw him opposite Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. Butler has appeared in numerous movies since, including his turn as Phantom in the movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. Not one of Butler’s past roles ever grabbed the attention like this one is sure to do. As the star of 300, this is the breakout role that should finally get him deserved recognition. Butler doesn’t only look incredibly hot; he commands the screen with a rich, star making performance that both men and women will find irresistible. I even let it slide that Butler playing a Greek King, doesn’t even try to conceal his native strong Scottish brogue. For that matter, the cast is filled with international actors including Brazilian, Rodrigo Santoro, British Lena Headey and Canadian Stephen McHattie, none of whom make an attempt to sound Greek.

Butler leads the cast of predominantly macho men in Zack Snider’s brilliant, stylized adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, “300” which mixes fantasy with ancient history. Miller’s Sin City was a groundbreaking dazzler and this adaptation of another one of his novels is an equally masterful work of art.

Set in 480 B.C. “300” retells the story of Spartan King Leonidas (Butler) and his small band of only 300 men who went to battle against the massive invading Persian forces led by self proclaimed God king, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro).

To understand the mindset of a Spartan warrior, the opening sequence lays the foundation of how Leonidas was bred to train as a warrior from the age of 7 and as a teen forced to implement those learned tactics when cast out in the wilderness to survive against the bitter cold of winter and the hungry wolves. It was ingrained in him to kill or be killed. As part of the Spartan’s philosophy, the young warrior is taught to never retreat or surrender and based on national pride, to fight to their last breath on the battlefield, for it would be the greatest glory they could achieve.

And so it goes that the adult Leonidas, against the approval of the Priests and a writhing, drug induced young woman known as the Oracle (whispering undecipherable words of supposed wisdom) and without the consent of the Spartan Council, takes off under the guise of a stroll with his bodyguards, to fight off the impending invasion of Xerxes (pronounced Zerseez) who wants to rule the world. Leonidas’s military strategy is to meet the enemy in a small corridor where the Spartans have the advantage to defend themselves in an attack and to build a wall of Persian dead bodies.

And indeed lifeless bodies do rack up as Xerxes dispatches an endless army in the form of slaves, monsters, fierce animals, magicians and the menacing silver masked Immortals who are fought off with impenetrable strength, fortitude and determination, at least for a while. The Spartans know that if they have to die, they will take as many Persians as possible with them to their death. The thought of defeat doesn’t exist for the Spartan warrior, even when the giant, androgynous looking, bald King Xerxes adorned in gold chains, eye makeup and multi facial piercings arrives on a towering slave driven throne and offers Leonardis rule over Greece if he would kneel down before him and surrender. No can do, which means a full bodied and full-bloodied war is yet to each its end.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, Leonidas’s wife, Queen Gorgo (lovely British actress Lena Headey, The Brothers Grimm) is portrayed (and I really like this) not as a woman who just stands there helplessly while the man she loves goes off to war but as a strong, deeply convicted woman, who takes it upon herself to stand before the Council and give an eloquent speech about honor, justice, and freedom in order to gain support for her husband who is fighting on the battlefield for those rights. When a traitor in the Council, Theron (Dominic West) tries to use his evil means to overpower, ridicule, and destroy her, the smart, resourceful Queen turns the tables on him in an even more deadly way that had all the women in the audience rightfully cheering. But he isn’t the only visible traitor. When Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan), a terribly deformed hunchback (a victim of Spartan society that discards deformed or sickly children at birth) eager to join Leonidas and his men in battle is rejected, as revenge he turns to Xerxes, who promises him temptations of the flesh in exchange for pertinent information.

You would think with all the stabbings, impalings, decapitations, body parts and blood splattering across the screen during battle scenes, the gore might be excessive and uneasy to watch. Not the case, as every frame is visually spectacular, captured and delivered like a beautifully choreographed slow motion ballet with an exciting, perfectly matched heavy metal music soundtrack. The sepia colors, textures and special effects are seamless to the extent that you can not tell that the actors performed their scenes in front of a blue screen, as in a virtual studio, with the background digitally produced by Chris Watt’s amazing team of visual effects wizards. I applaud their genius.

Three months into the New Year, I must say this is the best film of 2007 so far and a must see for any serious movie buff. I was completely drawn into every gorgeous detail, action, interesting characters, the dialogue (often with a bit of humor injected), and plot development. It also is a great story about freedom, love, sacrifice, and not compromising or bending to anyone, even in the face of overwhelming odds.

I may not be able to come up with 300 reasons to see this film, but I think the above should do.

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