The King of Sparta and three hundred of his best soldiers
march against the vast invading armies of Persia in 480 B.C.
Directed by Zack Snyder
Written by Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Michael B. Gordon
Starring Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham,
Dominic West, Rodrigo Santoro, Michael Fassbender
Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley
300 has been memed to death since its release in 2006, so much so that I think some people have forgotten how badass this movie is. It's the film that effectively started Gerard Butler's career as a leading man, and as long as he lives he will always have people shouting "THIS IS SPARTA!" right in his face. Following Dawn of the Dead, it is also the film that put Zack Snyder on the map as a director. You can consider that a good or bad thing. If you follow the podcast, you know where I stand on that guy. Regardless, his work on 300 is fairly exemplary and it remains one of the most entertaining films in his catalogue.
The film is loosely based on the real-life Battle of Thermopylae that occurred in 480 B.C. between the invading armies of Persia and the defending armies of the Greek city states, namely Sparta, Athens, and Arcadia. The film focuses solely on the Spartans, particularly the three hundred warriors who followed King Leonidas (Butler) into battle against millions of Persians. The battle scenes are epic, and the characters are fleshed out quite well. The Spartans are remembered as expert warriors who lived and breathed battle, and they became the Persians' worst nightmare. I wish the film had been more grounded in realism and abandoned the more fantastical elements, like Xerxes (Santoro) being eight feet tall and the Persians having trolls and monsters in their army.
Despite the weird shit, 300 is a really fun watch. It's one of the most exciting modern war movies, thanks mostly to Snyder's signature style that really works for this one. While not historically accurate, it remains a fun, larger than life, fantasy retelling of one of ancient history's biggest underdog moments.