Extremely quotable, bad-ass, and fun, 300 is a movie to remember. Zack Snyder knocks this movie's special effects and action out of the park and does justice to the comic.
Since its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 14, 2007, in front of 1,700 audience members, 300 has received generally mixed reviews. While it received a standing ovation at the public premiere, it was panned at a press screening hours earlier, where many attendees left during the showing and those who remained booed at the end. Some of the most unfavorable reviews came from major American newspapers. A.O. Scott of The New York Times describes 300 as "about as violent as Apocalypto and twice as stupid," while criticizing its color scheme and suggesting that its plot includes racist undertones; Scott also poked fun at the buffed bodies of the actors portraying the Spartans, declaring that the Persian characters are "pioneers in the art of face-piercing", but that the Spartans had access to "superior health clubs and electrolysis facilities". Kenneth Turan writes in the Los Angeles Times that "unless you love violence as much as a Spartan, Quentin Tarantino or a video-game-playing teenage boy, you will not be endlessly fascinated." Roger Ebert, in his review, gave the film a two-star rating, writing, "300 has one-dimensional caricatures who talk like professional wrestlers plugging their next feud." Some critics employed at Greek newspapers have been particularly critical, such as film critic Robby Eksiel, who said that moviegoers would be dazzled by the "digital action" but irritated by the "pompous interpretations and one-dimensional characters." Variety's Todd McCarthy describes the film as "visually arresting" although "bombastic" while Kirk Honeycutt, writing in The Hollywood Reporter, praises the "beauty of its topography, colors and forms." Writing in the Chicago Sun Times, Richard Roeper acclaims 300 as "the Citizen Kane of cinematic graphic novels." Empire gave the film 3/5 having a verdict of "Visually stunning, thoroughly belligerent and as shallow as a pygmy's paddling pool, this is a whole heap of style tinged with just a smidgen of substance." 300 was also warmly received by websites focusing on comics and video games. Comic Book Resources' Mark Cronan found the film compelling, leaving him "with a feeling of power, from having been witness to something grand." IGN's Todd Gilchrist acclaimed Zack Snyder as a cinematic visionary and "a possible redeemer of modern moviemaking." With "300" Zack Snyder began his journey into visionary filmmaking where he used green screens and effects in a very efficient and stunning ways. In some cases if really works ("Watchmen", "Man of Steel", "Batman vs Superman") while in other cases it doesn´t ("300", "Sucker Punch"). "300" was built from Frank Miller´s graphic novel with historic events as the base and Zack Snyder has tried to put you as a viewer literally into the cartoon frames within the graphic novel and visually it works for the most. But, when Snyder has a less fleshed out script with very one-dimensional caricatures and characters he simply can´t manage to engage you and everything becomes pompous, over acted with ridiculous and silly cliché phrases as the red thread throughout the movie. You cringe when Gerard Butler screams "This is Sparta!"... Yes, it is based on something cartoony, but as Snyder showed in his adaptation of the fantastic graphic novel "Watchmen" if he has a solid storyline with depth he can succeed into making a graphic novel into something truly enjoyable and fantastic. "300" is a visual feast with great art direction and cinematography, but as said with such a bland script and development this can only be a disappointment. Trivia: The movie never claims to be historically correct, something which is addressed at length in the documentary The 300: Fact or Fiction? (2007) on the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. The movie is based heavily on Frank Miller's 1998 comic book mini-series, also entitled "300". In the documentary Miller openly admits that he made many radical changes to the history and director Zack Snyder admits to making further changes. Snyder states that he was more concerned with making a film which would appeal to a wider audience, and creating an exciting and visually stunning action movie rather than a typical historical epic. Indeed, he further points out that the film is a subjective narration by Dillios (David Wenham) in an effort to spur his men, and as such, the narrative cannot be trusted as historically accurate or wholly objective. Snyder acknowledges that Dillios is not a man to allow truth get in the way of a good story, and that the point of the depiction is that it is specifically the Spartan perspective of the battle. In particular, Snyder cites the depiction of the Immortals. The Immortals were a real battalion, but they weren't demons, they were just ordinary men. However, in Dillios' narration, it is much more dramatic and heroic if the 300 fought off the attack of 10,000 demons rather than 10,000 men. As both Miller and Snyder argue, the film is not a realist piece. In an effort to get the studio executives to commit to making the movie, Zack Snyder and his team scanned every image from Frank Miller's graphic novel into a computer. They then removed all of the dialogue and descriptive prose, and added simple animation to each frame (such as burning fire, moving clouds, sparkling eyes etc.). They then edited these shots together into what amounted to an animated comic strip, and Snyder hired his friend Scott Glenn to record a voice-over narration for the piece. Snyder brought the film to Warner Bros., but they said they needed more to convince them that the movie could work. As such, he decided to shoot a live-action 'test' - a 90-second 360-degree continuous shot featuring a single Spartan killing several Persians. The combination of the animated comic images and the test convinced Warner Bros. that Snyder and his team were capable of making the movie. An extract from the animation as well as the entire test can be found as an Easter egg on disc 1 of the 2-Disc special edition DVD of the film.