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Review (8/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

There's nothing I enjoy more than writing an entire movie review and having the power go out and losing everything. It brings such joy to my life. I absolutely love sitting down and rewriting an entire review that took me close to two hours to write. Anyways...

In 300, Gerard Butler stars as King Leonidas of Sparta, the man assigned the daunting task of protecting his city from hundreds of thousands of advancing Persian soldiers. Actually, assigned might not be the right word since Leonidas more or less delegates himself and his men to protect Sparta. He does so against the advice of the Spartan council and their half-naked oracles who tell him that going to war with the Persians would ultimately lead to death. Nevertheless, Leonidas assembles an army of 300 highly trained Spartan soldiers and is joined by a small army of not-so-highly trained but equally eager commoners and they set out to defeat the Persian army - an army that outnumbers them at least 10 to 1. Leonidas' plan is to station his men at a narrow mountain corridor known as the "Gates of Hell" and it is there where they will fend off the Persians and kill them one by one if need be. Unfortunately for the King and his brave men, a betrayal takes place and the Persians are able to ambush the Spartans via a hidden path on the mountain. But these Spartan soldiers are taught at a young age to fight to the death and till every last drop of blood is spilled. It is something they are more than happy to do. As Leonidas not-so-subtly instructs his men - "Eat a hearty breakfast men, for tonight we dine in Hell!". Let the battle begin.

The handful of people I told that I have seen 300 have pretty much all asked me the same question - is it better than Sin City? The short answer is no, it is not but the long answer is that it is not really a fair comparison. Besides being written by Frank Miller and being a brutally violent movie, the two really don't have a lot in common. To me, 300 is more of a mix of Gladiator, Braveheart and Lord of the Rings. It's got the epic battle scenes, the inspirational speeches, the blood, the guts and for a little LOTR we have demons, giants, monsters and all sorts of other wonderful oddities. To be honest, I wasn't too crazy about all the sort of wierd little supernatural things. I would have rather seen one army of men chop up another without all the ghosts and goblins but that's just my preference. Other than that, the movie has plenty of intense battles, some pretty good choreography, some decent CGI, a lot of corpses and even a few laughs thrown in here and there. Gerard Butler is outstanding as Leonidas, at least as good and perhaps even better that Crowe and Gibson. He has a great set of lungs that he uses to bark out his commands in his Scottish accent. The guy is ripped beyond belief. He must have been doing 300 sit ups a day to get a set of abs like that. In fact him and the 299 other Spartan soldiers all walk around with their washboard abs, more or less half-naked and with not a single pube on their entire body for pretty much the whole movie. It's really quite depressing for a guy like me to have to sit there and watch that as I mow down on a tub of popcorn (with butter).

All in all, 300 is one helluva a ride. Perhaps not quite the movie that was Braveheart or Gladiator but very, very close. It's surprising because I was doing a bit of reading about the movie on IMDb.com and it seems the movie was shown at the Dublin International Film Festival and it received a very poor reception, at least according to the people who posted on that site. Apparently it was booed and people walked out. All I can say is don't believe the Irish. Who even knew they had a Film Festival there? The Irish should stick to commenting on the only two things they know anything about - beer and potatoes.

All I can say is the screening I attended, the crowd was pumped. I don't think in the 500 plus movie screenings I have attended that I've ever seen such a crazy crowd. UFC champion Chuck Liddell attended the screening and even though I don't really know too much about him, I kind of recognized him. He's a pretty big boy. Anyways, my one recommendation is that if you are going to see 300, see it on opening weekend and see it with a crowd that will be into the movie. It will make it so much better. I know that's one regret I usually have after going to a lot of these press screening. Most of the time the crowd is so complacent that the only reaction you ever hear are the loud sarcastic laughs when something silly happens in the movie that doesn't live up to many of these critic's high standards. It's really quite annoying. There was none of that at the 300 screening. The crowd was pumped, I was pumped. Hell, if I would have seen Liddell after the movie I might have even asked him to go a round or two. It would have been bad news - for him. Bwahahahahaha.


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