My last weekend viewing was very non-taxing. The HD-DVD (R.I.P.) version of 300 graced my now obsolete HD-DVD player and what spectacular video, audio and cheesiness it was too. The story was pure Hollywood hokum, albeit with a small grounding in history, as it retells the story of the three hundred Spartans who held off thousands of Persians invading Greece at the Battle of Thermopylae. herodotus is pretty much the only source for this battle, but what a wonderful read his Histories truly is!
Holding off the real and imagined Persian army, this version of the 300 was originally told in Frank Miller's graphic novel. Taking the skeletal knowledge of this battle, Miller adds some fanciful elements to the already impressive story to craft a real masculine epic of a small group of heroic combatants holding off a sea of enemies.
The film does a great job of adapting Miller's look to the big screen and does an admirable job of getting the dialogue right too. Of course, they were required by dramatic law to add the line that must be in all movies that have a Spartan in it - "Come home with your shield ... or on it". All in all, though, the dialog managed to avoid sinking into unintentional satire. I liked a line towards the end of the film:
Stelios: It is an honor to die at your side.
King Leonidas: It is an honor to have lived at yours.
The 300's stand at Thermopylae stalled Xerxes and the Persian army long enough for the rest of Greece to get their act together and the movie ends as the narrator describes the great victory of Greece over Persia at the Battle of Plataea, which followed the big Greek naval victory at Salamis.
300 was good, goofy fun. I'd be half tempted to pick up a copy as a reference disc, as the sound and video was truly top notch. Somehow, like I said, it managed to avoid sinking into true silliness and maintained a certain level of seriousness. The HD-DVD had some real nice extras, like a director's commentary which was accompanied by a small video inset showing the picture as taken against the blue screen, showing you where the graphics were later added. I also enjoyed the 300: Fact or Fiction short, which featured the hot Bettany Hughes , famous Spartan lecturer.
One thing that all this great graphical treatment still shows though - Hollywood still can't do snow wortha damn, even with all the graphical processing power they can bring to bear on the problem.