REVIEW: 300 (2007)
Michael Fassbender big-screen debut! Doesn't that count for something? Ahu! Ahu! Ahu! (See? I brought better sub-headlines than you)
May three hundred «toxic» fans of Hack Snyder fall upon me, but 300, at its best, is a below par film. Not even its most "beautiful" images (shown in most trailers at the time of its release) save it. In case you've been living under a rock, let me offer you a brief summary: Three hundred Spartans against a million Persians; honour, strategy, a pinch of politics and buckets of blood. Not a few litres, but gallons. It's a blood festival. There you go. Story-lines made easy.
I see at least two problems: Its climax and its narrator. Take the classical narrative canon: The three-act structure. In its simplest definition, you have the setup (first act), development (second act) and conclusion (third act). 300 ruins itself in the second act. At this stage, I should appreciate the enormous courage shown by the Spartans (their initial battle; their acts of heroism against the odds, etc.). And when the warriors make their final and brave stance (the climax), I should "feel" the colossal impact of their deeds. But there has to be something in the film to back it up. And there isn't enough, so the second act comes across as anti-climatic. And here's where the narrator comes into play.
The issue is not the decision to include a voice-over narrator, but to use it to interrupt and destroy the visual story of the film. On several occasions, he breaks the flow of battles and action set pieces. Without his intrusion, the movie could have manufactured the strong foundation needed to develop the aforementioned climax. I lost the soldier's sense of progression and achievement with his countless disruptions. By the time Leonidas kneels and gives the final order to his men, it feels like the movie has been fast-forwarded to the end, and the heroic act has lost its lifeblood.
I won't complain about the so-called production values. Some might find the phony film style a hindrance, but I accept it knowing that its source material is a graphic novel with comparable visual characteristics. The fact that the movie has been spoofed endlessly speaks to its influence in the popular imagination, but it fails miserably with its development and its terrible use of the voice-over narrator. And don't get me started with its alleged historical "accuracy". Haven't you learned by now? This is not Sparta.
Thanks for reading 9takes! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Get in touch and consider following me at @9takesT on Twitter