In a deleted scene of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Faramir (played by David Wenham) looks at a dead Easterling (Eastern mercenaries hired by the villain Sauron) and muses to a fellow warrior, “The enemy? His sense of duty was no less than yours. Do you wonder what his name is? Where he came from? If he was really evil at heart? What lies or threats led him on this long march from home, if he would not rather have stayed there, in peace?”
In 300, David Wenham plays a badass Spartan who suffers from no such crises of conscience. In the world of 300, the only good Easterner is a dead Easterner.
300 can be best described as a mixture of Braveheart and Gladiator. The essence of 300 seems to be contained in a statement by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler): “The world will know that few stood against many.” And that’s pretty much the long and short of it—a small number of troops fights a larger number of troops. Curtain.
I’m a sucker for last stands. For my money, nothing beats Jeff Daniels’ cry for bayonets and the subsequent charge down Little Round Top in Gettysburg, though the last charge of Aragorn and Theoden at Helm’s Deep in the aforementioned Two Towers comes close. Yet, while 300 is arguably all last stand, it somehow left me cold.
There’s a well-remembered scene in Gladiator where Maximus (Russell Crowe), having already defeated a foe by sticking two swords in the chest, pulls out the swords and slices the enemy’s head off. It’s a vicious, gory moment, and when I saw it in the theater, plenty of people cheered. Not because they hated the guy and wanted him to die a gory death, but for the badass-ness of it, the cleverness of it, the sheer rush of the move. I remember being a bit taken aback. But what I like about Gladiator is that, in the next moment, Maximus turns to the bloodthirsty crowd (who have been shocked into silence by the disappointingly swift fight) and shouts, in disgust, “Are you not entertained?”
Take that moment where Maximus cuts off the guy’s head, extend it to an hour and a half, remove the subsequent admonishment and you have 300.
I did enjoy the boss fight with the giant monster, but I was uncertain whether the film was accurate in depicting the Persians as having mastered nuclear fission at that point in history and, thus, generating atomic mutants as a by-product.
But I kid Frank Miller and Zak Snyder! 300 is an astonishing spectacle.