300 by Zack Snyder

‘300’ is in one word, a bloodbath. Zack Snyder, of ‘Sin City’ fame, has brought us and disappointed us with another macabre, abstract mess. A shame, as Snyder showed considerable promise as a skilful director with ‘Sin City’, which was a masterpiece in its own right.

‘300’ however, means we can add Zack Snyder to the list of directors who never quite get the knack of what they are doing and occasionally crawl out of the woodwork to bring us yet another pointless piece of garbage.Believe it or not, in the hands of a capable director, ‘300’ could have flourished. Historical films usually do quite well in modern cinemas, we have the example of ‘Gladiator’, an epic to say the least, which won numerous awards and awed cinema audiences back in the year 2000. Gladiator’s director, Ridley Scott, a professional with many a legendary film to his name, always seems to deliver the directing ‘goods. ‘ Mr Snyder could do with taking a leaf from his script.The film is basically about King Leonidas, (played admirably, by the Scottish Gerald Butler), and his army of 300 savages, or Spartans as they liked to be called. The 300 face a seemingly impossible task, to defeat the million-men strong Persian force, as well as mere men, the Persians have an army of clumsy mammoths, Immortals and various gruesome mutant monstrosities at their beck and call. The battle looks pretty one sided.

However we are reminded throughout the film of Sparta and how they were the true ‘civilised’ nation of the fifth century and how each Spartan man is worth a thousand of one of their enemies. Most graphic of these scenes depicting the ‘glory’ of Sparta is close to the beginning, when we are told how the ‘weak foetuses’ are discarded and left to die, we are then presented with a graphic picture of a pile of tiny infant skulls. Not the perfect message we should be giving out to today’s society of genetic research.It should be mentioned at this point that ‘300’ is supposedly ‘loosely based’ (hanging on for dear life kind of loosely based) on an actual historical event, (the battle of Thermoplaye), the main characters are all real and existed though somehow it is doubtful that the real battle contained quite so many spears thrust through torsos and decapitated corpses falling in almost-too-painful-to-watch slow motion.

‘300’ has anything and everything the modern masochist could ever dream of. The acting is, believe it or not, the saving grace of ‘300’.Gerald Butler is as believable as a man wearing only a G-string and a cloak can possibly be, bellowing, ‘Spartans! Prepare for glory! ‘ with the sheer ferocity of a man possessed. Rodrigo Santonos is also worth a mention.

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Not just for the spine-tingling performance he delivers as the god-king Xeres but for the patience it must take when your costume designer asks you to wear a ton of brass and flounce around looking utterly ridiculous for the duration of the film. Snyder has obviously attended ‘CGI School’ early in his directing career and has an almost unparalleled array of CGI skills at his disposal.Of course, we learnt this after the magnificent ‘Sin City. ‘ Naturally, Snyder shifts the CGI gore up a gear; obviously intent on making his audience retch in cinemas nationwide. It can be said with conviction that he has succeeded in a spectacular fashion. Although you cannot argue that almost all the effects are mind-blowing, (as bloodthirsty as they are) and showcase Snyder’s apparent talent, the majority of it is unnecessary and just looks ridiculous, not be mention faker than fiction.CGI, like most modern wizardry goes down a treat when used in small doses where it is required.

Unfortunately the old ‘you can never have too much of a good thing’ rule isn’t strictly true. Most children learn this fact of life soon enough, Snyder however seems to have missed that part of his education and crams far too much CGI into ‘300’ than is required. It wouldn’t be so bad if the CGI used wasn’t quite so downright violent, even teenagers grow sick of mindless violence. Eventually.

Despite all this, we can still marvel in appreciation at the many millions pumped and wasted into this wreck of a film. There are still children starving in Africa but Snyder still has the nerve to whisk away thousands of his audience’s hard-earned cash on this epic disaster. Tyler Bates has churned out a few symphonies especially for ‘300’ each of them a credit to their maker.

Unfortunately, when listening to such work amidst a shower of bloody gore, the music is tainted somewhat and instead leaves a bittersweet taste in the mouth.300′ has won awards, a few fair in fact and to give credit where credit is due, some of the rather tasteless members of society would declare ‘300’ to be a work art, deserving of a place in the ‘Film Hall of Fame. ‘ Most, I suspect, at least those with an adequate number of brain cells, will be henceforth ignoring any future films directed by Zack Snyder. Personally, I hope Mr Snyder learns his lesson and that his next offering, ‘Watchmen’, expected on the 6th March 2009, will be somewhat more watchable.

That is, if anybody still has the stomach to bear to watch a film that even whispers his name on its promotional poster.