300 is based on a graphic novel, which is both its strength and weakness. Strength, in that the movie is stuffed full of gorgeous visuals, and weakness in that the plot is, ahem, cartoonish. The characters never become anything but stereotypes, which is a real shame as there is a lot of psychological gold to quarry from Spartan society and its more outré ideas.
The movie must also break some sort of record when it comes to slow-motion ultra-violence. Not even Tarantino has been able to concoct so much stylized blood splatter.
All in all, 300 is popcorn. Visually arresting and sometimes gripping, but with the depth of the face of Xerxes on a traitor’s coin.
It’s also kind of oddly gay feeling†. Oddly, since none of the Spartans does anything remotely non-heterosexual. After a while it struck me that the lingering gayness comes from not their fabulously sculpted abs of fury, but their hairlessness. None of the Spartans have chest hair. Which is a bit odd since the Greek in general are not known for lacking body hair. The cast obviously worked very hard on their physiques, so perhaps it natural for them to want show off their abs and pecs without distracting hair. Who knows?
Either way, if you’re in the mood for something very large and loud, 300 certainly delivers.
†Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
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